Fast Facts on the U.S. Government's Work in Haiti: Cholera
On October 21, 2010, the Haitian Ministry of Health and Population (MSPP) confirmed cases of cholera for the first time in at least a century.
At the request of the Government of Haiti, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)—already helping Haiti to build sustainable health systems to detect and combat the spread of communicable diseases in the aftermath of the devastating January 2010 earthquake—immediately began working with the MSPP and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to lessen the severity of the outbreak.
Through June 2012, the U.S. Government (USG) provided expertise and more than $95 million to prevent additional cholera cases and support the response by:
- Distributing products to purify drinking water, soap for washing hands and household items, and oral rehydration salts to prevent dehydration in people with acute, watery diarrhea.
- Working side-by-side with MSPP and other partners to establish a national system for tracking cases of cholera.
- Supporting staff and commodities for 45 cholera treatment facilities and 117 oral rehydration posts through cooperative agreements with USAID, CDC, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) partners, other non-governmental organizations, and MSPP.
- Developing cholera education materials to train more than 6,000 community health workers who are funded to conduct educational activities and outreach on cholera prevention and treatment in communities throughout Haiti.
- Improving access to clean water in communities by providing support to drill new wells, repair others, and promote safe water practices.
- Evaluating the effectiveness of large-scale distributions of hygiene items in collaboration with Haiti’s National Direction for Potable Water and Sanitation (DINEPA) and the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
As of June 2012, Haiti has reported approximately 554,114 cases of cholera and an estimated 7,249 deaths. Though deaths from cholera were high in the first few months of the epidemic, Haitian-led, internationally-supported efforts have helped to significantly reduce fatality rates.
Access to clean water and availability of sanitation systems are limited in Haiti, and cholera is likely to persist until access to adequate water and sanitation improves. The USG is committed to strengthening the Haitian healthcare system to contain the future outbreaks and treat the Haitian people. In line with MSPP’s desire to integrate cholera prevention and treatment into overall health programming, the USG is working more broadly on the prevention and treatment of all causes of diarrheal diseases. To reduce vulnerability to cholera and other diarrheal diseases, we are supporting the Haitian government and USG partners in improving access to treated drinking water at the community and household levels in both urban and rural communities. In addition, the USG, in collaboration with PAHO, UNICEF, and the Haitian government, helped launch the Coalition on Water and Sanitation for the Elimination of Cholera on the island of Hispaniola. This initiative calls for major investments in safe water, sanitation, and hygiene, particularly in Haiti.