You’ve most likely been reading about the Cholera outbreak in Haiti. The outbreak originated in an area called Artibonite, which was just south of where we had been staying in the Northwest Zone, and north of Port au Prince. Since we arrived in Port au Prince yesterday, I have learned that a few cases have been discovered in the city itself. We’re especially concerned that the outbreak would spread to the Cite Soleil slum, where hundreds of thousands of people live in squalid conditions. Cholera would spread much more rapidly here than in the rural Artibonite area.
What’s frustrating about Cholera is that it’s actually a very easy disease to prevent. As a waterborne illness, it’s often contracted by drinking unsafe water. But since many, many, parts of this country lack access to safe water, the transmission of waterborne illnesses is not uncommon.
Further complicating matters is that Cholera is “new” to Haiti, as there have not been reported cases of this sickness here for many years. Since people are often uninformed about this illness, they do not know how it is contracted and may not be aware that they need medical treatment until it is too late. Cholera is relatively simple to treat – usually patients can recover with an oral or intravenous solution of sugar and salt.
Because Cholera is so easily preventable and relatively easy to cure, we never have to worry about it in developed countries. But since living conditions, education, and treatment infrastructure are so lacking here, thousands of lives are threatened. Be sure to say a prayer for the people here, and if you want to help more directly, please make a donation to Partners in Health, Doctors Without Borders, or Operation Blessing.