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Treatment supplies for 17,000 patients expected to arrive next week
Stamford, Conn. – May 2, 2012 – AmeriCares is rushing to deliver more than 100,000 liters of IV solutions for victims of the worsening cholera epidemic in Haiti. The emergency shipment contains enough IV fluids to treat at least 17,000 of the most seriously ill patients. Already more than 7,000 people have died since the outbreak began in October 2010 and reported cases have been on the rise again with the return of the rainy season.
The AmeriCares Haiti team is scaling up efforts in response to the epidemic. Cholera has been difficult to control in Haiti because it spreads rapidly, especially in communities with poor sanitation and limited access to clean water. Most cholera patients can be quickly treated with oral rehydration salts and will survive, but the most severe cases require immediate use of IV fluids to counteract their rapid dehydration. Without treatment, the most seriously ill cholera patients can die in as little as 10 or 12 hours.
“Cholera is most deadly at the start of the rainy season when it catches unprepared communities off-guard. In some rural areas with limited access to medicines and treatment supplies, you see fatality rates 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 lifesaving IV fluids the moment they arrive. With proper treatment we can get fatality rates below 1 percent.”
AmeriCares immediately began replenishing the medicines and supplies in its Port-au-Prince warehouse upon learning 77 new cholera cases a day were reported in early March. The latest shipment to combat the epidemic includes IV fluids donated by Baxter International Inc. and Hospira.
AmeriCares has delivered more than 230,000 cholera treatments since the epidemic began, 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 opened an office and warehouse in Port-au-Prince after a massive outpouring of support from donors following the January 12, 2010 earthquake. In the first two years following the disaster, AmeriCares delivered more than $54 million in aid to the island nation, including aid for the recent cholera epidemic. The organization sends more than 300 shipments a year to Haiti – an average of one shipment a day – to health care facilities throughout the country.