I have worked as a nurse in infectious diseases for almost 25 years. I never thought I would see cholera in my lifetime. Yet, alarmingly, cholera has sickened over 532,000 Haitians and killed over 7,000.
As usual, nurses are on the frontline of the battle against this killer.
They coax oral rehydration into patients. They start IVs for those already dangerously dehydrated. They give antibiotics to the most seriously ill. They perform the less glamorous, but critical, duty of keeping patients as clean as possible while suffering through horrific vomiting and diarrhea.
Miss Ketty and Miss Tulmé are two nursing heroes who are on the frontline treating cholera at Zanmi Lasante (PIH’s sister organization in Haiti). Both are very experienced, long-time, community health nurses who have mobilized community health workers, launched community education efforts about water hygiene, and kept the word out in rural communities that cholera is deadly.
I have learned so much from the committed nurses at Zanmi Lasante.
They don’t wear white uniforms or scrubs. They don’t have high-tech equipment to do their jobs. They serve where nurses usually serve: on the ground, blending in, taking care of their community.
Our cholera vaccination campaign is underway, and we are hoping that vaccination efforts—for at least one rural community—will help hold back the tide of cholera cases and deaths this rainy season.
But we know that, no matter what cholera throws at them, the nurses of Zanmi Lasante will continue to provide compassionate, lifesaving care.
You can follow all of the work of Zanmi Lasante’s cholera campaign here.