Our fight against diarrheal disease and cholera in Haiti continues, as AmeriCares Haiti funded the construction of a new community latrine and hand-washing station for a partner clinic.
The latrine and hand washing station were inaugurated in conjunction with World Hand Washing Day activities at Rezo Koze Lasante clinic, located in the village of Thomand. The clinic is the only health center providing basic primary care to a large area of Thomand – a rural community of 13,500 in the mountains close to the Dominican Republic border.
To commemorate this important milestone, members from the community gathered under a tree near the structure, still fresh with the scent of newly drying paint. The inauguration program featured beautiful songs by a children’s choir, educational talks by nurses who reinforced good hand-washing techniques, and speeches by village elders who explained the importance of maintaining the new facility.
A representative from the Ministry of Health provided a demonstration of good hand washing. “Cholera is always present so hand washing is vital to avoid getting sick,” he explained.
Worldwide, diarrhea is the second leading cause of death among children under age 5. An estimated 1.5 million child deaths each year - nearly one in 5 – are caused by diarrhea. It kills more children than malaria, AIDS, and measles combined.
The installation of community latrines like this provides families with access to sanitation and hygiene that can play a crucial role in diarrhea prevention. It is estimated that improved sanitation facilities can result in a reduction of an average of more than one-third of diarrhea cases. Unfortunately, today more people have access to mobile phones (6 billion) worldwide than there are with access to clean toilets (4.5 billion).
Following the demonstration, our Haiti team presented the clinic administrator with a locally-made basket filled with toilet paper, air-fresheners, cleaning supplies, soaps and materials to ensure a clean and safe environment and to help the community put into practice what they had learned.
In return, the community presented our Haiti Country Director Julie Hard with a key to unlock the first of the 4 latrine stalls.
Construction of the community latrine was part of a larger grant to the clinic to improve the quality of health care provided in the community and reduce diarrheal disease transmission. The project included installation of a septic tank, a water reservoir and rainwater-harvesting system, construction of another modern three-cabin toilet and a 400-gallon water tank to supply the health clinic with water.