The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Haiti, Ulrika Richardson, says Haitians are coming together to tackle the recent outbreak of cholera in the country.
“I visited several cholera treatment centers in the most affected neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince and saw heart-breaking scenes; children who were so malnourished, it was difficult to insert a drip into their arms or legs; adults who were clearly very ill.
“What immediately struck me was the intense smell of chlorine disinfectant, which is used to sterilize the immediate environment, clearly a sign that the facility is well run by health professionals who know how to prevent and treat the disease. I saw staff continually scrubbing the floor and surfaces to ensure that the cholera bacteria could not spread further,” Richardson said.
She said she is deeply impressed and moved by the commitment and dedication of health workers, adding “I met many inspirational people who have embodied this professionalism, and who have also demonstrated humanity and huge empathy with patients under treatment. Many have told me that Haitians are coming together to get through this difficult time”.
The UN is reporting that up until a few days ago, the increase in cholera cases had been gradual, but now health authorities are seeing a worryingly sharp increase, so the situation has become more challenging.
Figures released by the Department of Epidemiology, Laboratories and Research of the Ministry of Public Health, show that as of October 23, the total number of suspected cases in hospitals is 1,415 while there have been 41 deaths since the first was recorded on October 2.
Ulrika Richardson said “it is important to remember that although cholera can be deadly, it is preventable and treatable.
“Speed is of the essence, to contain an outbreak and save lives. I believe the public health response from the Haitian authorities, local and international NGOs, with the support of the UN, was immediate and decisive, despite shortages of clean water, and the fuel needed to provide power to health facilities and enable staff to get to work.”