Haiti's Cholera Outbreak: A Disease of Poverty - by Stephen Lendman
On October 22, Reuters confirmed Haiti's cholera outbreak, saying efforts were being made to prevent an epidemic that so far "killed nearly 200 people and sickened more than 2,000," official reports understating the threat.
On the same day, New York Times writer Donald McNeil, Jr. headlined, "Cholera Outbreak Kills 150 in Haiti," saying:
"A cholera outbreak in a rural area of northwestern Haiti....overwhelmed local hospitals with thousands of sick," according to the World Health Organization. Rural Artibonite, Haiti's main rice-growing area, 62 miles north of Port-au-Prince was struck, though cases were surfacing elsewhere. They're now in the nation's capital where overcrowding threatens a possible epidemic.
Though normally less congested, Artibonite hosts thousands of earthquake victims, most drinking St. Marc River water, contaminated with raw sewage. As a result, a potential disaster there looms as in Port-au-Prince and other parts of Haiti. Dirty water and poor sanitation are the problems, as well as poverty, always the main cause wherever cholera strikes.
St. Marc Hospital was "a horror scene," said David Darg, director of Operation Blessing International. McNeil reported him "describing people lying in courtyards on sheets soaked with rain and feces, children writhing in agony and adults lying motionless, their eyes rolled back as nurses searched for veins."
Since 1985, Partners in Health (PIH) has done heroic work in Haiti, its "flagship project," delivering care to many thousands of impoverished, malnourished, sick people. On October 26 on Democracy Now, PIH's Dr. Evan Lyon called the outbreak "terrifying," saying it's very fast-moving. Without help, adults die in 24 hours. "For the young, for the old, for vulnerable people," it's often 12 hours.
Most alarming is that "In a country where at least 70% (some say 90%) of people have no access to (clean) water or (proper) sanitation, (they) can't protect themselves." Haitians have no experience with the disease. "Their immune systems have no exposure, which will help the disease spread more rapidly....So the country is terrified at this point."