Cholera Outbreak Hits Port-au-Prince - by Stephen Lendman
On November 9, Haiti Libre said city authorities examined at least 120 suspected cases, mostly in Cite Soleil, the extremely impoverished, densely populated community home to around 400,000. More vulnerable from Hurricane Tomas flooding, Partners in Health (PIH) called crowded camps "a potential flashpoint for a cholera outbreak. There is growing concern" about reported cases, thousands that may spread to many more.
In recent days, cases "continued to expand geographically. More (appeared) in Haiti's Central Plateau," PIH reporting 111 people hospitalized. Reported deaths also keep rising, likely much higher than Haiti's Health Ministry 544 figure on November 8. On November 9, Al Jazeera reported 583 deaths, the numbers increasing daily. The report also said:
"At least 115 cases of cholera, including the death of (at least) 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."
Reporter Sebastian Walker said hospitals were overwhelmed, adding:
"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."
Given the familiar symptoms, however, including severe diarrhea, vomiting and fever, there's little doubt about the cause. Over 9,000 cases so far have been identified, mostly in the Artibonite area, north of Port-au-Prince.
Walker also said that "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."
PIH founder, Dr. Paul Farmer, currently UN Deputy Special Envoy to Haiti, called for an aggressive investigation into the outbreak's cause. However, since the January earthquake, aid from most governments, UN bodies, and most NGOs has been meager and inadequate, despite billions of dollars pledged or donated. Washington promised over $1 billion, delivered nothing. Shamefully, most funding is earmarked for development, not affected Haitians on their own to survive, even after Hurricane Tomas and the cholera outbreak.
Suspicions are that UN Blue Helmets introduced it, tests confirming it's a South Asia strain (Vibrio cholerae serogroup 01, serotpe Ogama), not regional. Nepalese Peacekeepers are based in Artibonite, site of the initial outbreak. It's also Haiti's main rice-growing area, raising suspicions of deliberate sabotage, creating a greater potential for US imports, already advantaged by huge subsidies able to undercut home-grown crops.
For decades, Haiti experienced no cholera. Now an epidemic threatens, ThirdAge.com saying since late October, half of Haiti's 10 administrative regions have been hit. In a matter of weeks, it's "suspected of infecting tens of thousands of people...." Tomas flooding forced an Artibonite River dam to release infected water, exacerbating the disease potential.
An earlier article provided more details, accessed through the following link:
On November 9, Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres - MSF) said it was treating increasing numbers of suspected cholera cases in Port-au-Prince - so far, over 200 people, "suffering from severe diarrhea, a clinical symptom consistent with cholera."
MSF has four Port-au-Prince facilities, but only about 300 beds set aside for cholera. In the Artibonite area, its teams have treated over 6,400 cases. Overall, however, it warns that the limited access to safe drinking water and sanitation services pose an enormous risk for further spread. A widespread epidemic is feared. Potentially it could kill many thousands.
On November 10, Haiti: Operational Biosurveillance (HOB) said: