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CARE Steps Up Haiti Response as Cholera Cases Surge
Medical facilities in hardest-hit areas overwhelmed by cholera victims, says CARE staff in Haiti
PORT-AU-PRINCE - November 12 - Haiti's government reports a sharp increase in the number of Haitians killed and hospitalized by an outbreak of cholera. According to Haiti's Ministry of Health, 11,125 people have been hospitalized with cholera as of November 9 and 724 people are reported dead. Three days earlier, Haitian officials reported 8,138 hospitalized and 544 dead. Cholera is now confirmed present in at least six of Haiti's 10 provinces, as well as in its capital and largest city, Port-au-Prince. The number of victims is expected to continue rising in days and weeks ahead.
Cholera spreads in water contaminated by feces. Heavy rains from last weekend's Hurricane Tomas sent water and mud contaminated with feces pouring into streets, buildings and homes. Cholera causes severe diarrhea and dehydration. Untreated, it can kill within hours.
To date, CARE has distributed high-energy biscuits, water purification tablets, oral rehydration salts, and hygiene kits to more than 16,000 people in the hardest-hit areas. CARE's public information campaign instructing Haitians on how best avoid and prevent cholera has reached at least 200,000 people. Additionally, CARE provides clean water and safe latrine facilities to 50,000 people living in camps for survivors of Haiti's January 12 earthquake.
''CARE's staff in Haiti is collaborating with health and water sanitation experts to ensure Haitians are aware of cholera's risks, and remedies around cholera,'' said Dr. Franck Geneus, CARE's Health Manager in Haiti. ''We have teams on the ground in Carrefour, Léôgane, St. Michelle, Petite Rivière, St. Marc, Grand Saline and elsewhere.''
Artibonite province, where Haiti's cholera outbreak began last month, is the primary focus of CARE's public information and relief campaign.
''Health facilities [in Artibonite] are overwhelmed with cholera victims,'' says Geneus. ''The people are afraid and angry. They don't completely understand what is happening right now. People have to understand, cholera is something new to Haiti.''