After Five-Day Silence, Haiti Reports 40 Percent Increase in Cholera Cases

Posted by , November 03, 2010 at 8:05pm

After Five-Day Silence, Haiti Reports 40 Percent Increase in Cholera Cases

Cholera deaths have jumped 31 percent since Friday.

The number of reported cholera deaths in Haiti has hit 442, the Haitian health ministry announced late Wednesday, and the number of cases has surged to 6,742, a more than 40 percent increase since Friday.

The news ends a five-day silence from Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population, which had stopped issuing its daily reports on cholera cases and deaths.

The ministry attributed its silence to public holidays on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2. But several on the ground mentioned yesterday that the ministry’s reluctance to release information could be linked to the government’s unwillingness to expose the depth of the problem in the days leading up to the Nov. 28 presidential contest.

“There’s a tremendous correlation on how the government is communicating regarding the outbreak of cholera and the approaching presidential elections,” said Edner Boucicaut, Housing Works Haiti country director. “The statements of the ministry, which is telling us that everything is under control, have consistently opposed the statements of international groups and local NGOs, who are warning that this will get much worse.”

Meanwhile, Haiti is bracing for Tropical Storm Tomas, which could hit the country Friday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. Cholera is spread primarily through a bacteria in dirty water, and the Pan American Health Organization warns that a messy high-powered storm could increase the cholera caseload “earlier and faster.”

“The bad sanitary conditions in many areas, combined with what the hurricane poses as huge amounts of rain and possibly flooding, are very likely to accelerate the spread of infection,” said Jon Andrus, PAHO’s deputy director.

Housing Works supports three health clinics in Haiti. Since Oct. 21, when the health ministry began reporting the outbreak, Housing Works has supplied the clinics with thousands of dollars worth of bleach, antibacterial soap, patient education materials and medication for first line treatment of cholera. A team of two doctors and a nurse has also been sent to beef up operations at the Housing Works clinic in Saint-Marc, the area where most cases have been reported.

See the tenth Haiti cholera situation report, released Wednesday night by the Pan American Health Organization.

Haiti Cholera Report

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