We've both witnessed the deeply personal impact that cholera has had on individuals, families and communities here in central Haiti. In the initial days and weeks of cholera, we had families abandoning loved ones at treatment centers for fear that they would return home and make everyone else sick.
We had patients treated and cured of cholera attempting suicide as their employers refused to take them back to work or school. We had children orphaned because their parents got sick and weren't able to get rehydrated quickly enough.
As time has passed and more is known about the science of cholera transmission, much of this fear and social isolation has dissipated, but it took community-wide memorial services and psychosocial support groups to help patients and their family members come to terms with the fact that those with cholera did not deserve to be stigmatized.
We also witnessed incredible feats of solidarity: Community members helping to carry complete strangers for miles over mountains to treatment centers; signing up to help register and administer the oral cholera vaccine to every household in their neighborhood; leading education sessions in their churches, schools, and community centers.
We're also very aware that our work is far from over. The sad reality is that even though we know that cholera is not going away, emergency funding for cholera is.
We at Partners In Health/Zanmi Lasante treated more than 900 patients with cholera just in September. If we continue treating cases at the rate we are now, our dedicated cholera funding will be gone in a few short months, and we have no new funds on the horizon. And we're one of a shrinking number of medical organizations partnering with the Haitian Ministry of Health to continue to provide prevention and treatment for cholera.
Our friends at other organizations here in Haiti continue together with us in this struggle. They, too, are struggling to identify where ongoing funds for cholera prevention and treatment will come from as emergency cholera funding from incredible long-term partners such as the CDC and World Bank will no longer be available at the same rates in the new year.
We'll be blunt: The loss of funding means that in months, thousands of patients -- people we have the tools, skills, and expertise to save -- will become sick, and hundreds more may needlessly die. This wouldn't be accepted in a wealthy country. And we're not willing to accept it in Haiti.