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Rainy Season to Worsen Conditions in Haiti’s Tent Cities

  • March 2, 2010

Haiti’s squalid tent cities have swelled to a population of 1.2 million men, women and children – about the size of Philadelphia or Phoenix or Dallas. Imagine a city that large where residents have only makeshift latrines for sanitation and leaky hoses for drinking water.

Haitian earthquake survivors have been living under these conditions since their homes were destroyed in the disaster. Help AmeriCares Save Lives »

As Haiti’s rainy season nears, conditions will become worse. Contaminated water and exposure to the elements puts families at risk of serious diseases such as malaria and dysentery.

“The rainy season is fast approaching and the need for medical aid to help fight related diseases is critical,” added Dr. Frank J. Bia, Medical Director of AmeriCares and an expert in infectious diseases and tropical medicine.

Dr. Bia recently returned from Haiti where he worked with AmeriCares relief team on plans to help vulnerable people living in tent cities survive the rainy season.

“As we’ve seen in other post-disaster situations, water systems can easily get contaminated with excess sewage,” reports Dr. Bia. “Due to cramped conditions and limited hygiene resources, some diseases can spread like wild fire once a few people get sick. Waterborne diseases such as dysentery and cholera spread rapidly under these conditions.”

In response, AmeriCares is continuing to deliver bottled water and water purification supplies. AmeriCares will also continue to deliver antibiotics, oral rehydration salts (ORS), fever-reducing medicines, IV-kits and IV-solutions critical for treating related illnesses and preventing dehydration. Without treatment for many waterborne diseases, patients – especially young children – experience severe diarrhea and can die of dehydration if not treated quickly.

As rain water stagnates, it creates the perfect environment for dengue fever- and malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Shanties and makeshift tents offer families little protection from infectious swarms.

“Endemic to Haiti is one of the most serious strains of mosquito-borne malarial infections,” reports Dr. Bia. “Malaria causes high fever, coma, massive convulsions and can ultimately lead to death. Unless something is done very soon, we estimate as many as 120,000 could contract this potentially fatal disease.”

In response, AmeriCares has sent specialized antibiotics and is working with local and international partners on malaria control projects.

AmeriCares is increasing its commitment to help the people of Haiti by pledging to deliver $50 million in aid to help rebuild the country’s health care system.

“We are inspired by the strength of the Haitian people and the steps they are taking to redefine their future; and we are grateful to our donors for their support which will allow us to continue to assist in the rebuilding process,” said Rachel Granger, who arrived in Haiti within 48 hours after the earthquake and heads AmeriCares response team.

AmeriCares has been providing humanitarian aid to Haiti for over 25 years, partnering with local health care organizations throughout the country.

Your gift to the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund will help with our lifesaving response to this deadly disaster.

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