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 awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

More Americas News

Obama Hopes for US Embassy in Cuba Before April Summit

But, in interview with Reuters president also cautions it will take more time to fully establish normal relations with Cuba after more than a half-century rupture
More

US Agriculture Delegation Visits Cuba, Protests Embargo

Delegation began three days of meetings Monday, hoping to find potential business partners, while urging Congress to lift embargo on trade with the island
More

Venezuela Tells US to Downsize Embassy Staff

President Nicolas Maduro claimed Saturday that Venezuela has detained American spies
More

Fidel Castro Finally Meets 'Cuban Five,' Spies Turned Heroes

Spies returned home as heroes after serving long prison terms in US, 73 days after last of them were freed in prisoner swap
More

Vazquez Sworn in as Uruguay President

Oncologist, 75, previously held presidency from 2005-2010; he takes leadership role from highly popular Jose Mujica, also of Broad Front Coalition
More

Venezuela: Arrested US Pilot Was Spying

Nicolas Maduro says American was caught with 'documentation'; US Embassy offers no comment
More