Cholera Still Haunts Haiti

When it rains, Haitians are not always spared from the cholera epidemic.
February 14, 2018 - Haiti

Richardon* at his last day in the re-hydration center at St. Damien.

Cholera is an acute infectious disease that causes severe dehydration, brought about by drinking bad or infected water, which leads to severe diarrhea and vomiting. This epidemic spread throughout Haiti quickly after the terrible earthquake in 2010. This infectious disease caused many deaths and is still spreading throughout the country.

Recently, while leaving work, I passed by the dehydration center at NPH St. Damien Hospital and I saw nurses administering an IV to a young boy named Richardson*: 19 months old, perched on his mother's legs, and very dehydrated.

His mother, Fabiola, in her mid-twenties, has two sons. The other son is a six-year-old; also sick. The family lives under a little tent: When it rains, neither they nor the children sleep, a problem they cannot fix until either parent can find work.

According to Fabiola they are drinking and using public water, also called "dlo tuyeau," untreated water. They use it for cooking food, bathing, washing, and everything else. Richardson is unfortunately not a lucky baby; he likely became ill by drinking the untreated water or through exposure to something or someone already infected.

This little boy became ill six days before I met him, I learned, but his mother could not bring him to the hospital until he was severely dehydrated and with strong symptoms of cholera.

A friend advised them to go to Hospital Universitaire de La Paix, a public hospital, but when they arrived, the case was already critical. They were quickly transferred by ambulance to NPH Haiti's St. Damien Hospital for better care. When they arrived, the child was quickly admitted and tested, revealing he had cholera.

According to the mother, she cannot afford clean water for the family, which is why they were and will still have to use unclean water.

According to Dr. Fenelon, "At St. Damien when we receive the infectious Cholera patients: Depending if the case is of severe dehydration, we give them an IV fluid called "SolutÚ," and oral serum accompanied with Azithromycin drugs. But if the case is not severe, we keep them in observation with oral serum. When the patients are ready to leave, we prescribe them antibiotics and give them the serum to take at home. We see more patients in the rainy season; when we receive heavy rain, the cholera cases increase."

Despite the challenges, NPH remains committed to helping all the cases we can to fight cholera, allowing for children to grow into healthier adults, and in turn help Haiti move forward.

*Name changed for privacy purposes.

Denso GAY   
Communication Officer

You may be only one person in the world, but you may be all the world to one child.
—Fr. William Wasson




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