Concern Responding to Cholera Outbreak in Haiti
Concern Worldwide is responding to a cholera outbreak in Haiti, where there are currently 200 confirmed cases and 40 confirmed deaths.*
There are a further 1,752* suspected cases of cholera; a bacterial illness causing severe diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration, which can be contracted through contaminated food or water.
In response, Concern is supporting health centers, and cholera treatment centers with materials and resources to disinfect contaminated areas. Additionally, Concern is providing hand-washing points in public spaces and running mass prevention awareness campaigns using community radio stations, mobile phone operators and global social media platforms.
Haiti has previously battled a cholera epidemic which hit the Caribbean nation shortly after the devastating earthquake there in 2010. More than 10,000 Haitians died from cholera between 2010 and 2018, before the country was declared free of the illness.
The cholera outbreak in Haiti comes at a time when the country is experiencing an unprecedented socio-economic and political crisis with continued rising costs of basic products. Inflation is at 30%, threatening the livelihoods of already vulnerable people. Some 48% of the population (4.7 million people) are facing acute food insecurity, meaning they are unable to consume adequate food, putting their lives or livelihoods in immediate danger, and requiring urgent food assistance.
“Haiti is contending with multiple concurrent shocks. Economic deprivation, social and political instability, and violent conflict negatively impacts the everyday lives of people living in the metropolitan area of the capital, Port-au-Prince. The cholera outbreak adding to this myriad of issues, has aggravated the existing humanitarian crisis in Haiti, causing further stress to people’s lives. Prevention and the knowledge on how to stop cholera spreading is essential to keeping the numbers of cases down,” said Kwanli Kladstrup, Concern Worldwide’s Country Director in Haiti.
Gang violence has spread throughout the country with the main fuel terminal in the capital Port-au-Prince blockaded. This has halted most transport, in turn creating shortages of basic goods, including clean water.
“It’s vital that people have access to clean water, particularly given the cholera outbreak. However, the continued blockades and fuel shortages have limited people’s access to clean water these past few weeks as water treatment services and deliveries have been suspended,” said Ms. Kladstrup.
Hospitals and health centers have also been affected as many have had to close or reduce procedures due to lack of fuel to power generators which are essential to Haiti’s unreliable power grid.
“Within this context, we are continually having to adapt our efforts in delivering humanitarian assistance. Through our network of community resources and dedicated staff, we are able to reach those most in need and to continue supporting local structures for community based cholera prevention and response.”
At least 1.5 million people have been directly impacted by the gang violence, with gender-based violence, including rape, used as a weapon of conflict in disrupting daily lives.
“This level and cycle of violence is causing a great level of stress to young girls, boys, men and women. For many young girls and boys, they feel a sense of powerlessness. For women and men, there is the impression that the violent leadership model takes precedence and limits the influence of other leaders,” added Ms Kladstrup.
“During times of heightened conflict, people are prevented from moving from one neighborhood to another, to either engage in daily activities or to get food, all which contributes to making them more vulnerable to gender based violence.”
Concern is also responding to cholera outbreaks in Malawi, Syria and Somalia.
*As of 20th October 2022, Haiti Ministry of Health and Population