A new community well is opening this week in the village of Mirebalais, bringing clean, drinkable water to thousands of people living in a region affected by Haiti’s cholera epidemic. One of many PIH projects initiated in response to the now month-old outbreak, this new well is a small, but significant step towards curbing the spread of a disease which has infected at least 20,000 Haitians and taken at least 1,300 lives since mid-October.
Cholera is a devastating disease that causes intense vomiting and profuse watery diarrhea leading to dehydration, which can be fatal within 12 to 24 hours. The UN estimates that as the outbreak spreads, upwards of 200,000 Haitians could possibly become infected before the end of 2010, with a fatality rate of at least 2 percent.
The well is located near the site of the Mirebalais National Teaching Hospital – a world-class hospital funded by PIH and Haiti’s Ministry of Health – which is set to begin serving patients by January 12, 2012. John Chew, PIH’s Mirebalais Hospital Coordinator, reports that on November 21, the cement surrounding the new well was poured, and the following day drilling was completed. On the 23rd the cement cap was put in place.