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Cholera in Haiti: A serious humanitarian crisis

PORT-AU-PRINCE (May 2013) - The Haitian cholera epidemic which first appeared in October 2010 has affected over 645,000 people, or more than 6% of the population, causing 8028 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).   In 2013, a total of 120,000 cases are projected, equal to the number of cases in 2012. More than half of all cholera cases worldwide were in Haiti in 2012 and roughly one third of all deaths, according to a new study by Renaud Piarroux and Stanislas Rebaudet from the University of Aix-Marseille.

Community cholera awareness raising in Port-au-Prince © Pierre Duyckaerts / ACTEDWhile international organizations with expertise in health and water-sanitation-hygiene face funding cuts and are withdrawing from the fight against cholera, the epidemic continues to kill. The number of cases in Haiti at the beginning of 2013 is comparable to the same period last year, raising fears of a new upsurge in cases during the current rainy season. The case fatality rate is above the "acceptable" level of 1%, and in fact is much higher in some departments.

At the same time, a significant number of CTCs / CTUs have been closed or abandoned.  In Port au Prince, the number of CTCs decreased from 84 to less than 20 within five months. At the community level, capacity to respond to a cholera outbreak with emergency water treatment and sanitation has scaled back dramatically, This problem is even more critical in the context of limited capacity (and resources) of the MSPP and DINEPA in the short and medium term. As a result, response capacity is near zero in several “high-risk” departments.

Emergency response capacity—necessary to eliminate the cholera epidemic-- is further weakened by an information and early warning system characterized by gaps in surveillance and whose reliability is not assured.

Finally, it is regrettable that no NGOs contributed to the development of the national plan to eliminate cholera, even though they played a key role in the response to recent outbreaks.

A structured approach to fight against cholera must also address the immediate needs of the Haitian people in terms of water, sanitation and care.

We cannot wait until the current crisis worsens before we respond and reinforce response capacity, any delays would have serious consequences.

With the onset of the rainy season and in the context of an increase in morbidity and mortality, the CCO warns of reduced capabilities in health and WASH services, and calls for renewed efforts by national and international actors to marshal resources and restore our collective capacity to respond.

Cholera continues to be a major preoccupation in Haiti.

About the CCO: Le CCO, est un consortium d’ONG Internationales opérant en Haiti dans les domaines de l’Humanitaire et du développement.  Il a pour objectif d’accroître la cohérence et l’efficacité de la contribution des ONGIs à l’amélioration des conditions de vie du peuple haïtien, par le renforcement du dialogue institutionnel et des collaborations entre les différents acteurs, dans une perspective de développement durable. Les membres: Action Contre la Faim, ACTED, Agro Action Allemande, AFSC, Americares, ATD Quart-Monde-Terre et Homme de demain, CARE, CESVI, Christian Blind Mission, Church World Service, Concern, Catholic Relief Service, Finn Church Aid, GOAL Ireland, Habitat for Humanity, Handicap International, Helpage, International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, J/P Haitian Relief Organization, MCC, Medecins du Monde International Network Coordination Office, Medair, MercyCorps, Merlin, NCA, Oxfam, Plan International, Save the Children, Solidarites International, Tearfund, Trocaire, UMCOR & World Vision.

Disclaimer: Any opinion expressed in this message does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of all CCO members.

Contact :  

Andrew Pugh, Representant CCO - 92, rue Gregoire, Petion-Ville, Haiti, +509 3701 5937

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