Cholera is still on the rise at HAS

August 15, 2013

The cholera outbreak that began three weeks ago in the HAS service area is evolving in ways that continue to challenge our doctors, nurses, and other staff to maintain the highest quality care under the toughest of circumstances.

Last week, we reported an outbreak of cases near Terre Nette and Bastien, extremely mountainous and remote communities in our service area. The HAS-run community health center in Bastien suddenly saw about 10 patients per day when before there were none. This trend lasted from July 25, when the outbreak began, through August 1. The numbers began to drop after August 2, averaging closer to two patients per day. The hard efforts of our staff working intensively on the ground paid off to stabilize all active cases and prevent new ones  through education, water treatment, and disinfection of homes.

However, we have not cleared the cholera season. Though admissions to the Bastien health center have slowed, they are still steady: since the outbreak began, the center has seen 69 cases and counting. Meanwhile, admissions to the main hospital's cholera ward - where we assess cholera cases and either treat them in the case of complications, or stabilize and refer to the nearby government-run cholera treatment center - have been increasing since August first. After a low volume of admissions through July (averaging 4 admissions per month), our admissions have surged to as high as 9 new admissions per day. We have already seen 26 cases in August to date, and the pace doesn't seem to be slowing.  

Initially these cases also originated from the Bastien area almost exclusively; however, patients are increasingly coming from areas closer to the hospital in the valley. Now, mid-month, over half of the patients admitted have been from the valley area, where approximately two thirds of our district residents live. In order to prevent a surge on this heavily populated valley floor, we have increased our education and sanitation work; our community health workers are focusing much of their efforts on teaching community members about cholera and hygiene, our supply chain staff are constantly checking stock and planning ahead, and our medical team is dedicated to caring for the patients who are cured thanks to the fast-acting teamwork that the organization and its partners have exhibited throughout the outbreak.

We have already received support in the form of materials donations from organizations like Direct Relief and Management Sciences for Health, as well as thoughtful donations from supporters like you. These contributions literally allow us to maintain an adequate stock of materials and staff our facilities during this urgent situation. 

Thank you for helping us to keep fighting the spread of cholera in the Lower Artibonite!

For updates in our service region, check in with us often on Facebook (www.facebook.com/hashaiti.org) and Twitter (@HASHaiti).

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