Skip to main content

Cholera in Haiti

Water for the Hospital Emergency Room

 Is anyone paying attention to the plight of Haiti anymore?  Unfortunately the rebuild (after the earthquake on Jan 12, 2010)  never really happened and Haiti seems as poor and troubled as ever.  Over 800,000 people still live in makeshift tent encampments. Now they are plagued with a cholera epidemic that just won't stop.  It is nearly impossible to eradicate cholera when sanitation is poor, clean water is scarce and people have no resources.

Thousands of Haitians live in rural communities that are isolated because of poor roads and no real facilities.  Many of these villages are inaccessible to cars or trucks.  Poor water hygiene is the cause of cholera in these areas and rains flush contaminated soil into the rivers and people get infected.

The Port Au Prince Hospital after the Earthquake
Cholera strikes very quickly and children especially become dehydrated from massive diarrhea within hours.  Treatment is not difficult if it can be started in time but the death rate has already surpassed 5,500 since the epidemic began in October.  Where there are no roads, no hospitals and no health facilities, there is essentially no prevention or treatment for Cholera.  Death follows.

Despite my interest in Haiti, I have been unable to understand the government (or lack of) and why the billions of dollars in pledged aide has been so ineffective.  We have Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in partnership with other governments who pledged to help rebuild Haiti from the ground up.  What has happened?

After the Earthquake, Hospital Tent
According to National Public Radio, the Pan American Health Organization has decided a large scale cholera vaccination campaign should begin in Haiti.  One drug manufacturer offered to donate tens of thousands of vaccines but the Haitian government turned it down because they were worried about civil unrest among people who couldn't get the vaccine.  That type of thinking just baffles me and I wonder why there is not more hard diplomacy in Haiti to get the government to do the right thing for its people.  If the government is unable to manage the rebuild and put in infrastructure for roads, agriculture, water systems and basic health care, despite the billions of pledged dollars, somehow the international community should take over.

When was the last time Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton visited Haiti?  Why is there not an outcry from other Nations, including the U.S. at what we are seeing just a few miles from our borders.

Partners in Health is still on the ground providing health care.  Doctors and Nurses from San Francisco have not forgotten Haiti and another mission to work with local doctors and provide supplies and training is underway.  As great as this is, it is just a drop in the ocean of misery for Haiti.

A large scale solution is needed and it must be undertaken by the government of Haiti.


No , people have forgotten . The country is poor there is nothing any of the government that pledged money and did not follow through want from Haiti . Now if there was something like large deposit of oil, Gold or other valuable resource it would become a question of "National Interest" and help would be there . Very Sad
Dr Paula said…
The Haitian people are amazingly resilient. I recently returned from my second medical mission and found them so hopeful that Martelly will fix everything. Where is all the money? I believe if we want to help it needs to be in more constructive ways.
Mark said…
Wow! Its a great idea here.... Really very interesting found.... I enjoyed this post blog post... Your really having a great collection of pictures. Thanks and keep posting.... Your blog is very informative.
Viagra Online

Popular posts from this blog

scintillating scotoma

Nothing like experiencing a medical condition first-hand to really help a doctor understand it from the patient's point of view.  After all these years, I had my first (and hopefully last) scintillating scotoma while sitting on the couch playing "words with friends" on my ipad and watching TV.  A scotoma is a partial loss of vision in a normal visual field.  Scintillate is flashing, sparkles.  Put them together and you have moving, flashing sparkles with a blind spot in your eyes.

This visual aura was first described in the 19th century  by a Dr. Hubert Airy who had migraine headaches.  The visual sparks and flashes are in a zig-zag pattern and they can precede a migraine headache or occur without any pain.   The scotoma affects both eyes and closing one or the other does not make it go away.  Sometimes the term "ocular migraine" or "retinal migraine"  are used to describe this phenomenon but these involve only one eye, not both.  The terms are often …

Do Doctors Make Too Much Money?

An article in theNew York Times says the reason health care costs are so high in the United States is because doctors are paid too much. I saw that and my eyes bugged out. I just came home from a meeting with physicians and hospital administrators and the entire meeting was spent discussing the financial challenges physicians face in keeping their doors open to see patients. The goal of this meeting was to keep health services in that community so patients will have someone to care for them. Not a person in the room would agree that the doctors earn too much.

Physicians paid too much? Lets break that down. A doctor spends a minimum of 11 years in education and training after the age of 18. Many are in training for 15 or more years. They are living on student loans and contributing zero to their family's income until the residency years. At that time they earn less than minimum wage if you factor in the 80-100 hour workweek. When a doctor emerges from training (and believe me…