News / Americas

Haiti's Cholera Epidemic Not Waning; Vaccination to Begin

TEXT SIZE - +

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 award-winning television reporter who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.  She has won an Emmy, many Associated Press awards, and a Clarion for her coverage of Haiti,  national politics, the southern economy, and the 9/11 bombing anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Syrian medical crisis and the Asiana plane crash, and was VOA’s chief reporter from the Boston Marathon bombing.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest 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.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Russia Expels Canadian Diplomat

Reports say first secretary's expulsion in Moscow is in retaliation for deportation of Russian military attache from Russian Embassy in Ottawa
More

Photogallery Fans Pay Tribute to Gabriel Garcia Marquez in Mexico City

Colombian Nobel laureate author died in Mexico on Thursday at age 87
More

Venezuelan Protesters Burn Leaders in Effigy

Hundreds take to streets of Caracas Easter Sunday demanding ‘resurrection of democracy; President Maduro’s image among those burnt
More

Audit Finds US Housing Aid Program in Haiti Falls Short

Results show post-earthquake USAID program has delivered only a quarter of planned number of homes at nearly twice the budgeted cost
More

Mourning, Memories in Garcia Marquez's Languid Hometown

Nobel Prize-winning author's early years in Aracataca inspired characters, tales for major novel
More

Powerful Earthquake Rattles Mexico

US Geological Survey says quake measuring 7.5 on Richter scale, was centered in the western state of Guerrero, north of Acapulco beach resort
More