Via his Dispatches from Haiti blog in the Peoria Journal Star, Dr. John Carroll writes: Clean Water and Common Sense.
The New England Journal of Medicine (May 29, 2014) has an article on the use of the cholera vaccine in Haiti. It is coauthored by Dr. Jean William Pape who is a well-known Haitian physician who has worked with HIV and tuberculosis patients for many decades in Port-au-Prince.
The article reports:
“Cholera is a disease of poverty, linked to poor sanitation and a lack of potable water. Establishment of an adequate sanitation and potable-water system is the most definitive way to prevent and limit its spread.
"However, the cost of instituting adequate sanitation systems, one of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, is prohibitive for the countries that are affected by cholera: it would cost an estimated $2.2 billion, for example, to adequately improve access to water and sanitation in Haiti.
"Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) practices are the cornerstones of cholera prevention and control. The promotion of WASH practices, the creation of rehydration centers, use of antibiotics, and training of health personnel during the first months of the Haitian epidemic led to a dramatic reduction in cholera-associated mortality, from 4% to 1.5%.2
"Yet a survey in the slums of Port-au-Prince showed that although people were aware of hand-washing methods, they did not have soap and water to implement them.”
I would ask how $2.2 billion dollars is “prohibitive” if it means improved water and sanitation for 10 million people? Cleaning up the water could prevent many of the deadly water born diseases including cholera.
The UN occupation of Haiti since 2004 costs 2 million dollars per day. If we did the math and looked at the morbidity and mortality caused from dirty water and poor sanitation, would we not have saved many more Haitian lives during the last 10 years if we would have invested in Haiti’s infrastructure and improved the water and sanitation?
Let’s start now improving basics in Haiti rather than continuing to talk about what is common sense in the first place.