As the rainy season begins, when people are most vulnerable to contaminated water that can transmit cholera, HAS is carrying out its plan to prevent the spread of cholera in the communities we serve. It’s a plan we developed with the first emergence of the disease in Haiti back in 2010 – a highly effective plan that is key to the year-over-year decline in the number of cholera cases in the region we serve.
Our first step is prevention. HAS community health workers are once again educating communities and school children about ways they can avoid the disease – hand-washing, drinking from clean water sources, ensuring that vegetables and fruits are thoroughly washed with clean water before eating. These messages also are airing on popular local radio stations.
The hospital lab stands ready to provide testing when cases are suspected, and our physicians and nurses are collaborating with the Haitian Ministry of Health in following national protocols for treatment and reporting of cases.
WHO guidelines break cholera patients into 3 categories of severity, but early rehydration is always key. Community health centers can generally provide all the treatment needed for patients falling on the milder end of the spectrum. These patients will typically receive an oral rehydration serum, plenty of fluids, and close monitoring. Patients categorized in the more severe groups are sent to the main hospital where they can receive more specialized treatment, including rehydration via IV and antibiotics.
Since early treatment is most effective, HAS community health centers are stocking up on supplies to ensure that we can promptly treat any cases that emerge. Many patients live in remote rural areas, and the presence of a nearby health facility within the community can make all the difference in how soon they seek care.
According to the MSPP, there has been a 53.5% decrease in incidences and a 47.7% decrease in fatalities nationally from 2013 to 2014. HAS is continuing this national fight against cholera through sound health policies and compassionate care.