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AmeriCares and Partners Provide Frontline Cholera Treatments as Mortality Rate Falls

  • January 31, 2011

The delighted face of Francia, a ten-year old cholera patient, reveals a new and hopeful chapter in the frightening tale of Haiti’s cholera epidemic.

The tireless efforts of AmeriCares and its partners to provide frontline treatments are saving lives in the three-month battle against this deadly but treatable disease. Many of the most vulnerable earthquake survivors in Haiti such as Francia now have immediate access to effective care at cholera treatment centers. The scale of the response has helped to drive the mortality rate down from near 7% at the beginning of the outbreak to around 2% at present.

The epidemic is far from over for the people of Haiti, but it seems to have peaked in parts of the country. The number of new hospitalizations has leveled off and even decreased in some areas. But AmeriCares supply line continues to work at full capacity to meet the demand for cholera treatment supplies.

At the Beginning of the Outbreak

Within 24 hours of the first reports of cholera last October, the AmeriCares team in Port-au-Prince made its first distributions of lifesaving treatments to hospitals at the epicenter to help stem the outbreak.

A demonstrated capability to deliver large volumes of cholera supplies and work effectively with the Ministry of Health’s pharmacy department has positioned AmeriCares as one of a handful of organizations relied on to meet the national needs in the cholera crisis.

Severe and moderate cases of cholera are being treated quickly and effectively because medicines and supplies are available and patients are treated early. AmeriCares has teamed with such corporate partners as Baxter International Inc., a major source of cholera treatment supplies, to meet the daily demand from hospitals and clinics.

The focus has been on providing front-line treatment for severe cases (IV solutions, IV sets and antibiotics), oral rehydration therapy for moderate cases, and then water purification products and hygiene items (soap and hand sanitizer) along with community-based health education to prevent further spread of cholera.

From Fear to Hope

In the bed next to Francia, the youngest of patients receives frontline treatment and love.

Photo by Nadia Todres. All Rights Reserved.

In the bed next to Francia, the youngest of patients receives frontline treatment and love.

AmeriCares supply line has made a critical difference in the struggle against cholera. Ten-year-old Francia Delphi recently came to a cholera treatment center supported by AmeriCares near Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince, where more than a million earthquake survivors still live in camps.

“The nurses treat me really well here, they feed me and play with me—that’s why I have so many balloons,” said Francia, who was able to go home a few days after receiving lifesaving IV rehydration solutions. The nurses at the center bring balloons for the children to lift their spirits. They also teach them important information about hygiene and how to avoid getting sick from cholera.

As part of AmeriCares emergency preparedness plans following the devastating earthquake that rocked Haiti a year ago, essential medical supplies to combat waterborne illnesses including cholera were stocked in Port-au-Prince and a network of partners was in place to ensure the right lifesaving medicines would quickly reach those in need. The high level of response to the cholera epidemic from AmeriCares will continue as long as it is needed.

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