Contagious Disease

Cholera and Haiti

Cholera has been a huge problem for Haiti. The excellent investigative journalist and author Rose George reports:

Five years on, cholera has killed nearly 9,000 Haitians. More than 730,000 people have been infected. It is the worst outbreak of the disease, globally, in modern history.

In 2014, Cholera was on the verge of being eradicated from Haiti:

After the dreadful death tolls of 2010–12, disease spread and fatality were being cut by nearly half each year. There were 352,033 cases and 2,927 deaths in 2011, compared to 27,659 cases and 295 deaths in 2014 (although the number of cases in 2013 in Haiti was still more than the rest of the world’s put together).

“In 2014 we were close to eliminating cholera. We were really close,” says Gregory Bulit, the emergency manager for UNICEF.

Later that year, however, cholera is back in full force. There were over 5,000 cases in October 2014 alone. Cholera can be easily treated with rehydration and IVs. So why hasn’t it been eradicated? In short, a lack of sanitation.

…[Haiti’s] sanitation is described as “practically non-existent”. Port-au-Prince has only one operational waste treatment centre for a city of two to three million people. People who do have latrines have them emptied manually by an underclass of bayakou (men who jump, often naked, into the pits and shovel out their contents). Hardly any of that shit is disposed of at the treatment plant; instead, it ends up anywhere the bayakou can put it. It’s the same ‘anywhere’ where the majority of Haitians without latrines go to do their open defecation. It’s the anywhere where cholera thrives.

Although there are more glamorous places to donate your money, getting sanitation for those who need is one of the best ways to improve health in developing countries.

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