As I mention in today’s article about the cholera outbreak, authorities are holding emergency meetings here in Port-au-Prince to coordinate their response.
I just spoke to Nick Preneta of SOIL, a sanitation-oriented Oxfam-affiliated NGO that’s installed composting toilets in camps across the capital city. Nick speaks Haitian Creole and has worked in Haiti for several years. He attended a 4pm meeting at DINEPA (Haiti’s Ministry of Water and Sanitation) headquarters and relayed the following:
- “There is definitely concern that it will hit Port-au-Prince. People are reporting diarrhea in different areas, but no confirmed cases.”
- “A lot of focus on what actors are doing what in St. Marc and Artibonite area… they are consolidating the stockpile of chlorine and aquatabs and changing the chlorine standard for how much chlorine to put into the water to effectively chlorinate it.”
- He said the International Organization for Migration and smaller groups like SOIL will begin a tent-to-tent hygiene promotion in Port-au-Prince. The Haitian Ministry of Health has to approve sets of public health messages before they can be sent out by radio, text message and other means, which is causing delays. He said SOIL received flyers from UNICEF they’d like to pin up on their toilets, but they’re awaiting approval.
- “One of the recommendations was to concentrate education at traffic centers.” I said that sounded like a no-brainer to me, to which Nick responded, “There were a lot of no-brainers at the meeting.” He went on to say, “There were conversations around shutting down schools and transportation routes… but if those are the conversations now, however many hours after the first confirmed case, it’s already too late – considering that there’s a lot of traffic between here and St. Marc and given the amount of produce that goes back and forth.”
Also, the Haiti Documents Index now updates in real-time as I upload documents to Crocodoc, a website that allows anyone to view and annotate the documents without registering. Below are some highlights of the latest reports:
- According to the Logistics Cluster, “The Artibonite River is likely to be the source of the outbreak, after heavy rains spurred its banks to overflow and flooded the area.”
- According to MINUSTAH, “DINEPA plans to intensify coverage of chlorination in PaP as a preventive measure especially in IDP camps. On 21 October, UNICEF contingency-plan partner ACTED initiated distributions of pre-positioned supplies of ORS and aquatabs for 6,000 people in Grande Saline in the villages of Drouin, Laporte, Latapie, Boc D’Aquin, and in the fifth communal section of Bocozelle.” Dr. Megan Coffee, based in Port-au-Prince’s General Hospital, said on Twitter earlier she hoped such distributions had already begun in the capital. To my knowledge, none have.
- From tonight’s Pan-American Health Organization’s Situation Report, the map below shows the enormous area of central Haiti where cholera cases have been detected.
Watch this space and the Haiti Biosurveillance website for further updates.