Fortunately, reported cholera deaths have decreased nationwide within the last year of the epidemic. From October 2010 to September 2011, cholera killed 6,510 people—from September 2011 to the present, cholera has killed 1,025.
But because of this, the urgency to address the outbreak—and the funding that came with it— is coming to an end. If we continue treating cases at the rate we are now, our dedicated cholera funding will be exhausted in February. We have no new funds on the horizon.
Cholera remains a leading cause of death among young adults in Haiti and cases continue to spike during rainy periods. In July, cholera sickened 5,600 people across the country, and in September PIH/ZL staff treated 900 people.
According to our doctors, these spikes have potential for real danger: fewer staff members available to treat a sudden influx of patients can lead to an increase in deaths. The disease moves so rapidly that in the one or two days it takes for reinforcement staff to arrive, patients can die. Also, fewer treatment centers means fewer patients can be treated.
Just this month, Partners In Health and Zanmi Lasante became the newest members of the Regional Coalition on Water and Sanitation for the Elimination of Cholera in the Island of Hispaniola. This is because we remain committed to a multi-tiered approach to managing cholera: aggressive case findings and treatment, expanding access to the cholera vaccine, and providing access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
If cholera is here to stay in Haiti, so too must be funding for this kind of comprehensive prevention and treatment. Without it, we may lose the gains we’ve made.