The number of patients is increasing day after day during the rainy season.”
Pharmacy and Medical Supplies Coordinator
Saint Luc Foundation, Haiti
A shipment of 100,000 liters of IV solutions – enough to treat 17,000 severe cholera patients – arrived in Haiti amid a worsening epidemic. The delivery will ensure the only treatment center in the impoverished community of Cite Soleil is stocked with enough lifesaving rehydration fluids to help the most seriously ill patients.
AmeriCares responded to an urgent request by long-time partner, Saint Luc Foundation, after a noticeable rise in the number of cholera cases at their two treatment centers. “The number of patients is increasing day after day during the rainy season,” said Lucy Nobre, Pharmacy and Supplies Coordinator for the Foundation. “We are exceeding capacity at our treatment center at St. Philomene in Tabarre and have opened a new center in Cite Soleil. We are grateful for the AmeriCares shipments – with enough IV fluids and oral serum, most patients regain enough health to go home in two or three days.”
AmeriCares Haiti Country Director Brian Hoyer explained that a marked decrease in the number of treatment centers makes it essential that those in operation are well stocked to treat a potentially explosive increase in cases. “Advance preparation is crucial, particularly in crowded, impoverished communities like Cite Soleil where thousands of people can fall ill in a matter of days,” he said.
The onset of the rainy season poses a dangerous threat to a population already weakened by extreme poverty, malnutrition and disease. “Cholera is most deadly at the start of the rainy season when it catches unprepared communities off-guard. In some areas, fatality rates may run as high as 15 percent,” said AmeriCares Medical Director Dr. Frank Bia, an infectious disease expert. “This emergency shipment will allow doctors and nurses to begin infusing patients with IV fluids the moment they arrive. With proper treatment we can get fatality rates below 1 percent.”
Immediate treatment saves lives
Cholera is treatable, but without prompt treatment, the most vulnerable patients can die in a matter of hours, making rapid response crucial to saving lives. The disease has claimed more than 7,000 lives among the 500,000+ cases reported in Haiti thus far. The Pan American Health Organization estimates that an additional 200,000 people in Haiti will contract cholera in 2012.
AmeriCares has delivered more than 230,000 cholera treatments since the epidemic began in October, 2010, supplying 189 cholera treatment facilities throughout the country – both government hospitals and clinics as well as private facilities providing charitable care. AmeriCares alone contributed about one-third of the lactated Ringer’s solution distributed to fight the epidemic. AmeriCares has also delivered medicines, oral rehydration salts, hand sanitizer, soap, water purification tablets, disinfectant and other hygiene products to help prevent the spread of the disease, and supported cholera prevention training for 100,000 people.
AmeriCares has supported the St. Luc Foundation since October 2010 with 10 shipments of cholera prevention and treatment supplies valued at more than $200,000, along with a grant to help build their refrigeration capacity for vaccines and insulin for their patients.