At Least Seven People Have Died From The Resurgence Of Cholera In Haiti
At least seven people have died from the resurgence of cholera in Haiti, according to an announcement made by the Haiti's government. According to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), a medical humanitarian organization, 68 new cases were discovered in the first week of October.
There was an outbreak in 2010 that killed almost 10,000 people and was traced down to a UN peacekeeping mission. In 2020, no new cases of cholera were reported in Haiti, according to the Pan American HealthOrganization.
On Sunday, Dr. Laure Adrien, the general director of Haiti's Ministry of Health, revealed that at least seven people had died from cholera in the capital city of Port-au-Prince.
According to Adrien during a press conference in the capital:
For now, we need to work on prevention and try to identify the source of the recent outbreak. We know cholera is very dangerous but also easily treatable. We call on everyone to be vigilant and do their part as we’re trying to get the situation under control.- Dr. Laure Adrien, the general director of Haiti's Ministry of Health
Cholera, which is caused by ingesting bacteria-contaminated food or water, is especially dangerous for those who live in places with insufficient sanitation or a lack of access to clean water.
The World Health Organization(WHO) reports that while cholera may be "easily treated" and vaccines are available, it is still a major cause of death in developing countries due to the disease's ability to cause fatal dehydration.
After a concerted effort on the part of health officials across the country, the disease was thought to have been eradicated until this year.
As Amina J. Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, phrased it in February, Haiti was "on the edge of a historic moment."
According to her:
As we look to eliminate cholera in Haiti, it will be the first country in modern times to do so following a large-scale outbreak.- Amina J. Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations
However, progress toward that goal appears to have stalled again.
On Monday, the United Nations announced that it would help the government of Haiti launch an emergency reaction to the latest outbreak, focused not just on restricting the spread of the disease but also on telling families how to take immediate lifesaving action in their local communities.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres released a statement through his spokesman noting that the country's other challenges were hindering efforts to contain the epidemic in Haiti.
“Fuel deliveries have been blocked at the port since mid-September, which has disrupted not only the daily lifeof the Haitian people but also the ability and capacity of the United Nations and the international community to respond to a compounding crisis,” he said.
“The Secretary-General appeals to all stakeholders to work together in this time of crisis, to ensure that the gains made over the past 12 years in the fight against cholera are not eroded.”
New public health crises rarely arise at the worst possible times, but this one is no exception. Now in their seventh week, anti-government protests have shut down most of the country, including schools, businesses, and public transit. Chronic gang violence, poverty, food insecurity, inflation, and fuel shortages have all been issues that Haitians have taken to the streets to protest since August 22.
Last month, Prime Minister Ariel Henry added fuel to the fire by announcing that, in order to sustain the government, he would be cutting fuel subsidies, thereby doubling gas prices. Fuel shortages have been made worse by the blockade of Haiti's main port in the city of Port-au-Prince by the country's formidable gangs.