Doctors Without Borders Haiti: Rapid increase in cholera cases in capital, etc. Urgent need to strengthen response

Doctors Without Borders
Haiti: Rapid increase in cholera cases in the capital, etc. Urgent need to strengthen response

In Haiti, Central America, the number of cholera cases has surged in the capital city of Port-au-Prince and several prefectures. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has sounded the alarm and urged more
organizations and donors to step up their response to the epidemic immediately and deliver essential medical supplies, such as
vaccinations, to the affected areas.
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Mothers taking care of infected children at the Cité Soleil cholera treatment center = October 7, 2022 (C) Alexandre Marcou/MSF
Cholera treatment center full
Since the first case was confirmed on 29 September, the 389 beds in the six cholera treatment centers (CTCs) set up by MSF have often been full. Mumza Muhind, MSF’s Head of Operations in Haiti, said: “We are still at full capacity and will soon run out. During the first two weeks, the center treated about 50 patients, but 10. Since the end of the month, the number has averaged 270 per day.To date, we have received more than 8,500 patients and 97 have died.It is a very worrying situation,” he said.
The cholera epidemic comes amid an unprecedented political and economic crisis in Haiti, as well as insecurity caused by gang violence. Port-au-Prince is now stuck in a situation where armed gangs control the main roads that connect it to other areas.
Poor sanitary conditions
On November 4, the blockade of a major oil terminal, which had been in the hands of armed gangs for weeks, was lifted, but fuel supplies did not improve significantly. Fuel prices soared beyond the reach of most of the population, adding to the deep economic crisis. The impact on medical facilities is also enormous, causing suspension of medical treatment and suspension of dispatch of ambulances. Securing clean water, which is essential to fighting cholera, also depends on whether water trucks can come and go, and it also depends on securing fuel and the security situation.
“Everywhere in the city is littered with trash that has not been picked up for months. Chopped and clogged canals and sewers are flooding and even causing catastrophic floods,” Muhind said. Urgent Need for More Aid
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MSF staff clean inside tents and make clean water available to patients = October 3, 2022 (C) Alexandre Marcou / MSF
MSF is one of the few organizations working with health authorities to stop the cholera epidemic, controlling more than 60% of the capital’s cholera beds. Mobile teams of water and sanitation specialists and health promoters are teaching infection control measures in the most affected areas. It also chlorinated about 100 water points and set up eight oral rehydration points to distribute basic necessities and clean water. Despite these efforts, MSF and the handful of
organizations currently working with it are unlikely to be able to cope with the current cholera epidemic. Therefore, other humanitarian organizations and donors also need to take action, such as
establishing CTCs and urgently expanding safe water and water supply and drainage systems.
In addition, it is extremely important to make vaccination a basic measure. Haitian health authorities requested vaccines from the International Coordinating Group (ICG), the international framework for vaccine response during epidemics, and hundreds of thousands of doses were allocated. MSF will support the authorities to prepare them to start implementing vaccination campaigns, complementing other activities such as water and sanitation and health education. The number of cholera cases has also increased in several districts of the capital and in other prefectures, making it difficult to accurately determine the location and scale of the epidemic. MSF epidemiologist Michel Cacera said: “With the CTC overwhelmed, it is not even possible to treat all patients. The increase is also a worrying sign.In areas with poor security, there are many cases where patients who complain of severe symptoms at night are refused transport to clinics by motorbike taxis and are forced to stay at home.” .
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