Dr. Ralph Ternier, director of community care and support for Partners In Health in Haiti, spoke at a congressional briefing on Oct. 24 to build support for eliminating cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. 

Following are his prepared remarks:

Honorable representatives of the Congress and all other organization members,

First of all, on behalf of my organization, Partners In Health, and my countrymen, allow me to express my gratitude to the U.S. government and other authorities and friends for their faithful support since the first cases of cholera appeared in Haiti. The epidemic has taught us a lot, and we are still learning more. We have lost many people these three years, and although there have been a lot of improvements, we are still at risk to lose many again.

Honestly, I would prefer to be with my colleagues in Haiti, where even this week in Lascahobas some were seeing 30 to 45 patients a day. But I think it's also important for me to be here to let you know that the battle against the disease is not even close to being finished. It's also an opportunity for us to use this unfortunate situation as a battle horse to strengthen the country’s health system, especially primary care, and the water and sanitation conditions. We need to be more consistent and restless in our initiatives; we ought to take advantage of this momentum of low mortality and morbidity to avoid acting as firemen responding to crises after they have emerged.

Lastly, it's important for us to offer the Haitian and Dominican patients and people every chance to fight the disease through a comprehensive approach of treatment and prevention, including vaccine and water and sanitation improvements.

Once again, I offer my deepest gratitude, and we hope we will continue to receive your support.

Read more about PIH's response to the cholera epidemic in Haiti.

Visit the special section on cholera in Haiti in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.