3 November 2010
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI, 3 November 2010 – UNICEF is rushing to ensure adequate emergency supplies in preparation for a severe tropical storm, as it works with UN and NGO partners to support the Government of Haiti’s response to the recent cholera outbreak.
“UNICEF staff have been working with our partners around the clock to help address and contain the cholera outbreak,” said Ms Francoise Gruloos-Ackermans, UNICEF Representative in Haiti. “Now, the potential landfall of this tropical storm endangers the work completed to date and poses a new threat of the water-borne cholera disease being spread by inland flooding.”
According to information released today by the Haitian Ministry of Health, there have been 442 deaths and 6,742 hospitalisations attributed to cholera in numerous locations throughout the country, suggesting that the disease continues to spread rapidly.
Special emphasis for the cholera response has been on informing communities and families about the preventative actions they can take to protect themselves from cholera. Community mobilisers are sharing health and sanitation-related information with residents as they distribute UNICEF-supplied oral rehydration salts and water purification tablets. Patients and their families being treated at health care facilities are also receiving preventative information.
UNICEF is focusing supply distribution efforts in distributing medical, nutrition, and sanitation stocks. Tropical storm contingency supplies are being prepositioned in communities throughout Haiti, including areas not directly affected by the cholera outbreak. These supplies include water purification kits, tarpaulins, oral rehydration salts, jerrycans, water purification tablets, and zinc tablets, which reduce the effects of diarrhoea.
Pre-positioned stocks, however, may not be sufficient. Urgently needed are additional water, hygiene, and sanitation supplies. UNICEF Haiti is sourcing many of its stocks directly from suppliers worldwide.