MSF on the Cholera Crisis

Here’s a blurb from a recent MSF dispatch:

In the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, where nearly a third of Haiti’s population lives, the public health facilities have not integrated cholera treatment into their services, which means that if you present at a public hospital with cholera symptoms you will be referred to the CTC of an NGO like MSF. In the department of Artibonite, where approximately 20 percent of all cholera cases have been reported since the epidemic began, some CTCs are facing medical supply issues, and some of the staff have not been paid their salaries since January. This has direct consequences for patient care. However, these situations are in contrast with the successes in Nord department, where the local health authorities responded well to the last peak in the epidemic. This calls into question the national authorities’ political will to set up an effective national cholera response system.

This situation is further complicated by the decrease in international funding, which has reduced the number of NGOs working on cholera—whether on the medical care level or the prevention level with activities concerning water, hygiene, and sanitation. There are fewer and fewer operators engaged in the fight against cholera in Haiti, but the population is still vulnerable to the disease.

Successful coordination of responses to the epidemic between the remaining operators depends on quality, reliable epidemiological data. Yet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) support to the Haitian government in setting up an effective epidemiological surveillance system—which would make it possible to adapt the cholera response in strategic locations—has been lacking.