Limiting cholera epidemic impact

Haiti has been hit by a new outbreak of cholera, which first affected the island in October 2010.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that “the epidemic has killed dozens of people over the last few weeks”, just at the start of the rainy season and the hurricane season. More than 5,400 people have died since the initial outbreak of the epidemic, according to the United Nations.

Since the beginning of 2011, Humanity & Inclusion (then named Handicap International) has piloted a project to limit the impact of the cholera epidemic on at-risk populations. Mobile teams make daily visits to communities in Petit-Goâve and isolated villages (particularly in the mountains) to teach people simple hygiene practices that will help protect them from cholera. These information sessions are combined with hand-washing demonstrations, the distribution of cholera kits and training is being provided to members of the community in charge of implementing prevention procedures once the first cases of cholera have been identified. The kits contain a plastic bucket with a lid, a bag to keep belongings dry, a fleece blanket, a bath towel, a sponge, bars of soap, water purification tablets, and oral rehydration solution sachets.

Humanity & Inclusion launched an awareness raising campaign on October 26, targeted toward the most vulnerable groups. Personalized awareness raising sessions are performed to overcome the difficulties people face in accessing group awareness initiatives. This campaign also includes the vulnerable person's immediate family and neighbors.

Lastly, a production workshop dedicated to the construction of transitional shelters in Petit-Goâve will also produce some 100 beds adapted to cholera treatment centers in Petit-Goâve, Grand-Goâve, Miragoâne and Les Cayes.

Humanity & Inclusion has also widely distributed recommendations for including people with disabilities in the management of the response to the cholera epidemic, particularly regarding operators working in the fields of health, protection and camp management.