SILVER SPRING, Md. – In the capital city of Port au Prince, Haiti, recent heavy rains have triggered another cholera outbreak among persons displaced by the earthquake in January 2010.
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is combating the spread of this life-threatening disease through a multifaceted response, expecting to benefit approximately 50,000 beneficiaries in the capital city suburb of Carrefour.
The agency’s month-long intervention will take place in four high-risk areas of Carrefour, and will address the increasing challenges and needs of the population. ADRA’s response includes the establishment of oral rehydration/hand sanitation points throughout high-risk communities. These points will distribute oral rehydration salts (ORS), a simple treatment for those suffering form dehydration, often times as a result of cholera. The points also serve to promote community awareness of the disease and teach simple live-saving preventative methods.
Through a convoy of four motorcycle-powered water purification units, ADRA is able to provide clean water to residents living in some of the worst affected areas. These mobile units will purify water in four different communities for six hours a day. In addition, each convoy operator will teach community residents how to maintain clean water containers through use of dissolvable tablets, which eliminate microorganisms in water to prevent waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and dysentery.
ADRA has developed an intensive prevention campaign for the high-risk communities. Through the help of volunteers from the local Seventh-day Adventist church, volunteers are going throughout communities, distributing flyers and placing posters in public areas about cholera in an effort to raise awareness about the disease. Each volunteer is equipped with a first aid kit supplied with basic necessities for cholera treatment, such as ORS, soap, and water purification tablets.
As explained by the Center for Disease Control, cholera is an acute diarrheal illness caused by a bacterial infection of the intestine, without treatment death can occur within hours. However, cholera is easily preventable and treatable through simple treatments such as water purification tablets, replacement of lost fluids and antibiotics.