Via Caribbean Journal: Haiti Sees Rise in Cholera Cases; 200,000 Could Contract Disease in 2012. Excerpt:
Haiti has seen an increase in cholera cases in three departments, confirming predictions of higher incidence of the disease with the arrival of the rainy season, according to the monthly Haiti Humanitarian Bulletin published by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
There was an increase in cholera cases reported by the Health Cluster in the Artibonite, Nord-Ouest and Ouest departments, according to the report. In the beginning of March, the Ministry of Public Health reported 77 daily new cases in Haiti. According to PAHO estimates, some 200,000 additional people could contract cholera in Haiti in 2012.
Click through the PAHO link and you'll find the estimate on page 5. You'll see a prediction of 200,000 "moderate" cases, plus 40,000 "severe," in this OCHA update. After thinking about the MSPP numbers since January, I think the PAHO estimate is grossly wrong. If it's not, then PAHO knows a lot more than it's been telling us.
In its January 1 cholera report, MSPP reported 523,993 cases since the start of the outbreak. Of those, 7,018 were fatal. On March 18, the latest date available, MSPP reported 531,683 cases and 7,056 deaths. So in those 78 days MSPP recorded a total of 7,690 cholera cases and 38 deaths. Case fatality rate is now down to 1.3 per cent over the whole outbreak.
That's an average of 98.5 cases per day. If that average persists through the 366 days of 2012, Haiti will suffer 36,051 cases by December 31. To reach 200,000 cases, we would need an average of 546 cases a day over the whole year.
Well, maybe the rainy season will cause a big spike in new cases. From March 19 to December 31 is a period of 288 days. We've already got 7,690 cases, so we should expect, PAHO tells us, another 192,310 cases. To hit that target, Haiti will have to record an average of 667 cases every day from March 19 to New Year's Eve.
Assume that Haiti's health system has the surge capacity to handle this onslaught of 200,000 cases, and that CFR remains at 1.3 per cent. We can expect 2,600 cholera deaths in 2012. But if we continue at our present rate of roughly one death every other day, we'll see only 183 cholera deaths this year.
Maybe PAHO really does know that MSPP is cooking its numbers and the true toll is horrendously higher; the Haitisphere has suspected as much from the start. But it's also likely that PAHO has pulled that 200,000 number out of the air, just as a way to get attention and funding for a disease that the world would rather forget.
If so, that doesn't say much for PAHO's honesty in particular or the UN's in general. And it doesn't say much for PAHO's opinion of the few journalists who still cover cholera, if it thinks the journos will just take the 200,000 and uncritically publish it.