News / Americas

    Haiti's Cholera Epidemic Not Waning; Vaccination to Begin

    The United States' most prominent public health agency is calling the cholera epidemic in Haiti “the worst cholera outbreak in recent history.”  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cholera continues to spread across Haiti a year after it was first identified, despite better access to clean water.  This, as the United Nations faces a lawsuit for alleged unsanitary conditions at a U.N. base that may have introduced cholera into Haiti. Our reporter takes us to a cholera clinic in Haiti, just a few kilometers from where the cholera outbreak in Haiti is thought to have begun.

    She stands in the morning heat, in pain and worry.  For her baby and herself.  "Susan" won't give her real name because of the stigma of her disease.  She walked and rode motorcycles for six hours to arrive at this cholera treatment center.

    “I was really worried this morning, especially when I was walking because I was really concerned I might lose the baby," said 'Susan'. " So I knew I had to get here and see what result I had.”

    Cholera can kill within hours by depleting body fluids through uncontrollable diarrhea and vomiting. Susan's sister also has it. Doctors know exactly how cholera spreads.  Some Haitians don't, like Susan's mother.

    "Only God knows what causes cholera," said 'Susan's' mother.

    The cause .. is contaminated water.

    Deadly Cholera Outbreaks

    Haiti October 2010-present

    • 470,000 people infected, almost 7,000 dead

    Nigeria 2010

    • 40,000 infected, 1,500 dead

    Zimbabwe 2008

    • 100,000 infected, 4,200 dead

    Democratic Republic of Congo 1994

    • Tens of thousands dead

    Peru, rest of South America 1991 to 1994

    • 1 million infected, 10,000 dead

    And a U.N. panel of experts has traced it back to Nepalese peacekeepers at this U.N. base.
    The disease has sickened nearly half a million Haitians in the past year, and killed more than 6,500.  During the height of the rainy season, patients here were three to a bed.

    Just down the road from the treatment center is the Latem River, where the first cases of cholera were reported.  It flows into the l’Artibonite River, the largest in Haiti, spreading the disease within days to rural areas with no access to clean water.”

    "You will see people bathing in the river, doing their laundry in the river, drinking from the river, bathing their animals and having them drink in the river," said Cate Oswald.

    Cate Oswald is with Partners in Health, the group that runs the center.  It and another organization, GHESKIO, want to begin a cholera vaccination pilot program in January.   But other groups argue a $900,000 price tag is too costly, and it would only reach 1 per cent of the population. Others worry the Haitian effort will deplete the global vaccine supply.  

    So, meantime, the centers train Haitians to treat drinking water with chlorine tablets and to practice good hygiene. But Dr. Jean William Pape with GHESKIO says those actions often do not continue at home.

    “You tell people to wash their hands," said Dr. Pape. "They don’t have enough water to drink.  How are they going to wash their hands?”

    Back at the treatment center, "Susan" feels her baby moving.  She will leave in a couple days to return to her home high up in these mountains. There, she has no access to indoor plumbing or latrines.


    Carolyn Presutti

    Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters. She has also won numerous Associated Press TV, Radio, and Multimedia awards, as well as a Clarion for her TV coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, Google Glass & Other Wearables, and the 9/11 Anniversary.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    More Americas News

    Health Experts Call for Delaying or Moving Olympics Over Zika Threat

    Open letter with 150 signatures says holding games in midst of health threat to visitors would be 'irresponsible,' 'unethical'

    Global Growth the 'Urgent Priority', G-7 Leaders Conclude

    A final statement of the meeting addressed broad issues facing the global economy while glossing over a difference of opinions among G-7 leaders over fiscal stimulus

    Diplomat Found Dead in El Salvador

    Body of Panama's honorary consul is found in vehicle in San Salvador, with a gunshot wound to the head

    In Colombia, Abortion Is Legal but Denied to Many Women, Advocates Say

    Colombia, a nation of 48 million people, allows abortion in cases of rape, incest, fetal malformation, if the fetus is at risk and if the health, both physical and mental, of the mother is at risk

    Colombia Says 2 More Journalists Missing in Rough Area

    Journalists missing in region where security forces are already carrying out massive search for prominent Spanish journalist, President Juan Manuel Santos said Tuesday

    Cuba to Legalize Small, Medium-sized Private Businesses

    Move could significantly expand space allowed for private enterprise in one of world's last communist countries