By Dady Chery
Hurricane Tomas swept through the Grande Anse region (south west) of Haiti last weekend, destroying over 1,000 homes and killing more than 30 people, according to the Haitian news.
I would challenge readers to find the words “Grande Anse” in any recent English-language news item about Haiti. Instead, the corporate media, including the examples from BBC and Al Jazeera, appended below, have been united in announcing that the recent cases of cholera seen in Port-au-Prince, which received no more rain than usual for the season, are due to the hurricane and will lead to a runaway epidemic involving millions of people?
What is the basis for this analysis and dire prediction?
The cholera in Haiti was introduced into the country by MINUSTAH (U.N.) soldiers, fresh from an outbreak in Nepal last September, who disposed of their wastes into a tributary of the Artibonite River. The contamination was later spread by a distribution of water from the Artibonite river in little blue plastic bags labeled “Purified.” Significantly, the numbers of new cholera cases began to decline as soon as the original source of the contamination was discovered and the Haitian government put a stop to the distribution of untreated drinking water. To those who say that the death count is expected to increase yet again, I say: it had better not. Already, there are several hundred counts of murder to be prosecuted.
Cholera is principally a public health emergency rather than a medical one. There are two ways to stop the outbreak:
- Stop contaminating the water. Worrisome sources of continuing contamination are the NGO makeshift clinics that operate in Haiti without oversight. All waste from these clinics must be treated before it is disposed. The waste-disposal procedures followed by these clinics in Port-au-Prince should be closely watched.
- Stop drinking contaminated water. One cannot catch cholera by wading through flooded areas, or even the Artibonite River, as the news images frequently suggest. To get a severe case of cholera one has to drink contaminated water, and to catch a milder case one has to eat food that has come into contact with contaminated water. Cholera-contaminated water — even Artibonite River water — becomes harmless if boiled. Therefore all drinking water should be boiled.
Two folk remedies for the sick:
- To replenish the body with sugars and salts, provide coconut water.
- To kill the cholera bacteria, provide several spoonfuls a day of a boiled pomegranate skin extract.
The BBC and Al Jazeera erroneously attribute recent cases of cholera in Port-au-Prince to Hurricane Tomas and suggest this will lead to a runaway epidemic involving hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of people. We must ask ourselves why the corporate media misinforms the public about the origins of the epidemic when it is well established that cholera was introduced by the U.N. occupying force and spread by means of contaminated water, declared to be pure and distributed by the authorities. In the articles below, the BBC altogether ignores the U.N./Nepalese source and the spread of the epidemic through the distribution of contaminated water by the authorities. Al Jazeera ignores the distribution of contaminated water by authorities and calls the introduction of the disease by U.N./Nepalese forces, “an unconfirmed theory.” What are these news media covering up and why are they doing it?
For more on this story:
Source: Haiti Chery
Haiti: Cholera Confirmed in Port-au-Prince
November 10, 2010
Sister Marcella speaks to the BBC‘s Laura Trevelyan about dealing with the cholera epidemic
The health ministry in Port-au-Prince has confirmed that the country’s cholera outbreak has reached the Haitian capital.
Doctors are treating 73 people for the disease, amid fears that it could spread across the quake-hit city.
Meanwhile, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) says it expects tens of thousands more Haitians to catch cholera in the next few years.
The health ministry says so far 583 people have died in the epidemic.
Dozens of suspected cases are also being investigated in Port-au-Prince, which has feared an outbreak since October.
Across the country, more than 9,000 people are being treated for symptoms of the disease, the health ministry said on Tuesday.
“The epidemic of cholera, a highly contagious disease, is no longer a simple emergency, it’s now a matter of national security,”
the director of Haiti’s health ministry, Gabriel Thimotee, told a news conference.
Officials are warning that a sizeable outbreak in Port-au-Prince is now likely.
The deputy director of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Jon Kim Andrus, said his organisation expected cholera transmission in Port-au-Prince “to be extensive.”
Mr Andrus said PAHO and other organizations were preparing for a long-running epidemic likely to infect tens of thousands of people across Haiti over the next few years.
“The disease now has a foothold in Haiti’s river system,”
Mr Andrus said that while it is impossible to predict the development of the epidemic in Haiti, for planning purposes PAHO has extrapolated from the 1991 cholera outbreak in Peru, which spread to 16 Latin American countries over six years.
Comparing the population figures of Peru and Haiti and factoring in the number of cholera cases in Peru during the outbreak in the 1990s, the organization thinks that 270,000 people in Haiti could fall ill.
“But the number in Haiti could be even higher, because the conditions there are worse than in Peru,”
Mr Andrus told the BBC.
So far the Haitian death rate has also been higher than that registered during the Latin American epidemic, he added.
While trying to educate the population about prevention and treatment of the disease, reducing the fatality rate of the disease in the Caribbean country remained a top priority, Mr Andrus said.
PAHO said it was also on “high alert” over the risk of cholera spreading to the neighbouring Dominican Republic and has sent experts to prepare for a possible outbreak in that country.
Mr Andrus warned there could be an “upsurge” in cholera cases in Haiti in the coming days as a result of water and sanitation problems caused by Hurricane Tomas at the end of last week.
“We have every reason to expect that the widespread flooding has increased the risk of cholera spreading.”
The water-borne disease has already spread to half of Haiti’s 10 regions.
The storm at the end of last week left 20 people dead, with 36 injured and 11 missing, officials said.
Aid agencies say the main concern is that the flooding could result in people lacking access to basic sanitation and being forced to drink contaminated water.
The hurricane passed without destroying the tented camps in and around Port-au-Prince, which house about 1.3 million survivors of January’s earthquake.
Aid workers say those living in the tent cities have better access to toilets and clean drinking water than the residents of some of the capital’s long-standing slums, says the BBC‘s Laura Trevelyan in Port-au-Prince.
But if more cases are confirmed, the outbreak could threaten an estimated 2.5 to three million people in Port-au-Prince.
Cholera itself causes diarrhoea (sic) and vomiting, leading to severe dehydration. It can kill quickly but is treated easily through rehydration and antibiotics.
Cholera spreads to Haitian capital
November 10, 2010
More than 100 cases registered as thousands of people in Port-au-Prince’s camps face growing risk of catching disease.
At least 115 cases of cholera, including the death of one person, have been registered in Haiti’s capital, the most significant warning sign yet that the epidemic has spread from outlying areas to threaten hundreds of thousands of people in the city’s camps.
Officials refer to a patient who has been hospitalized with confirmed and suspected cholera as a case.
Samples from patients in Port-au-Prince are being tested in a laboratory to confirm the presence of Vibrio cholera bacteria, which has already killed at least 643 people in Haiti, said Gabriel Timothee, the health ministry’s executive director.
If confirmed, the bacteria could imperil an estimated 2.5 to 3 million inhabitants.
He said many of the hospitalized patients are believed to have recently arrived from parts of Haiti such as the Artibonite Valley, where the epidemic was first registered and has done its most damage.
Al Jazeera‘s Sebastian Walker, reporting from Port-au-Prince, said that hospitals are “overwhelmed.”
“Given the sheer number of cases that hospitals are receiving, it is simply not possible to conduct laboratory tests in order to give 100 per cent overall confirmation that this is cholera,”
In little more than three weeks it is suspected of infecting tens of thousands of people, though only about a quarter of people infected normally develop symptoms of serious diarrhea, vomiting and fever.
More than 6,400 of the known 9,123 cases to date have been in the agricultural region, clustered around the Artibonite River.
Most of the people suspected of having the disease in the capital are in the Cite Soleil slum, the expansive oceanside shantytown at the capital’s far northeastern edge and its closest point to the valley.
Since its discovery in late October, the disease has spread to half of Haiti’s 10 administrative regions, or departments. More than 200 people have been hospitalized in the West department, where Port-au-Prince is located.
Nearly four per cent of the thousands hospitalized have died, most from extreme shock brought on by dehydration.
Investigation under way
Cholera had never been documented in Haiti before its sudden appearance last month. Officials are concerned that floods triggered by Hurricane Thomas on Friday and Saturday could exacerbate the spread of the disease, which is transmitted through the consumption of fecal matter contained in contaminated water or food.
Our correspondent said:
“It is almost impossible to contain this disease in an environment like this. Port-au-Prince is a very overcrowded city with appalling sanitation infrastructure.”
The release of a dam on the Artibonite River caused the infected waterway to swell Monday, but there were no reports of major flooding.
An analysis by the CDC has found that the cholera outbreak in Haiti most closely matches a strain of the disease found in South Asia.
Public health experts including Paul Farmer, the U.N.’s deputy special envoy to Haiti, have called for an investigation into the origin of the outbreak.
An unconfirmed theory is that the disease was introduced to Haiti by U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal who are based on a tributary to the Artibonite River.
Source: Al Jazeera