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Haiti: Isaac leaves cholera behind it

Terre des hommes (Tdh) - Switzerland - Wed, 12 Sep 2012 11:00 GMT
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The toll of the storm Isaac that beat down on Haiti is a heavy one, and even more worrying is the fact that the higher water level has given rise to new flare-ups of cholera. The torrential rain and flooding has caused the death of 20 people, partial or total destruction of over 3,500 homes, and damaged hundreds of farms. Tdh is concerned about the increase in cases of cholera. In the areas of its intervention in Grand Goave, 50 people have become infected in less than five days, and two of them have died.

Some hundred people displaced by the storm Isaac found refuge in a school and in one of the centres for children’s leisure activities that Tdh set up in Grand Goave after the 2010 earthquake. Tdh is working together with other organisations so that these families, now sheltered in the covered playgrounds of the centre and the school, may soon go back to their homes or otherwise benefit from essential materials to find a minimum of comfort. Mattresses, soap, means for water treatment and buckets have been made available to the families, in particular to prevent contamination by water-borne disease.

aiti_Tdh_Isaac_inondations.JPG The dangers of localised flare-ups of cholera are especially worrying. The typhoon season started in August and will continue until November, a period during which the rates of infection are far higher. According to David Dandres, in charge of Tdh’s projects in Haiti: “The risks of cholera spreading are greater when the water, after winding through the fields, the banana plantations and around the houses, flows into the rivers where the rural population washes itself and draws its water supplies, carrying with it the bacteria responsible for the disease. During the dry season, the vibrio soon dies in the heat of the sun and there is less risk of contamination.”

The Department for Civil Protection has decreed a state of emergency in that communal section of Grand Goave, where the sole health centre that can look after cases of cholera was also damaged by the storm. Tdh’s teams are distributing hygiene kits to families in this remote district, which contain basic items to protect them from water-borne diseases: soap, chlorine tablets, jerrycans, etc. Sick people are referred to health centres.

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