More than 5,400 patients were hospitalized at PIH/ZL's 15 cholera treatment facilities in August, confirming that the disease will continue to cause widespread disease and death in Haiti for the foreseeable future despite fluctuations from month to month.
The bacteria have contaminated the lakes, rivers, and canals that millions of people rely on for water to drink and bathe. Heavy rains or tropical storms could well trigger another spike in cholera cases and deaths before the rainy season ends in November.
Steps necessary to confront a deadly disease
PIH/ZL has continued to implement and advocate for the comprehensive package of prevention and treatment measures needed to combat cholera. At the local level, PIH/ZL has stepped up hiring and training of community health workers to reinforce hygiene education and quickly identify cases in poor and isolated communities. And PIH/ZL's cholera treatment facilities are being moved from tents to solid wooden structures with concrete foundations and sheet-metal roofs.
On the national and international scale, PIH/ZL continues to advocate for investment in the municipal water and sanitation systems that are needed to provide reliable access to clean water. PIH/ZL continues working with other organizations to mobilize support and resources for another key element of a comprehensive prevention and treatment strategy — vaccination.
A cheap, effective oral cholera vaccine exists. But only a limited number of doses are available. A coalition of international medical and public health experts led by PIH co-founder Paul Farmer has called for development of a two-million-dose stockpile for Haiti and a 10-million-dose global stock to combat cholera around the world. PIH/ZL has teamed up with GHESKIO, a longtime partner based in Port-au-Prince, to plan a 100,000-patient pilot vaccination campaign targeting vulnerable populations in both rural and urban areas.
Tens of thousands continue to suffer
The decline in hospitalizations from 12,649 in July to 5,400 in August at PIH/ZL clinics mirrors the MSPP's updated cholera numbers for the entire country. In August, roughly 20,000 people contracted cholera nationally, compared to the 50,000 new cases seen in July.
Since the first cholera cases were reported last October, just over 440,000 Haitians have contracted the disease and nearly 6,300 have died.
Learn more about PIH's cholera response.