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URGENT ACTION ALERT: Haiti Camps Report a Diptheria Outbreak

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Camp Canaan

While in Haiti, we notified a health monitoring service about suspected outbreaks of up to 100 cases of diptheria in Camp Cannan, twelve miles north of Port-au-Prince. Camp leaders gave us the figure. Based on the WHO public announcement to the media on May 11 that there "was no evidence of epidemic diphtheria", monitors reasonably believed our report to not be plausible. Even now, there has been no official announcement to many of the NGOs of the outbreak, highlighting challenges in communication with public health. Someone should listen to the Haitian people.

On Tuesday, May 18 the United Nations announced agencies are helping health authorities in Haiti carry out an emergency vaccination campaign after an outbreak of diphtheria in the capital, Port-au-Prince. Cases of the disease were first reported on Saturday, May 15 in Camp Batimat in Cite' Soleil district, one of the settlements housing people displaced by the January earthquake, Christiane Berthiaume, spokesperson for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), told reporters in Geneva.

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Camp Cannan is located near Cite' Soleil and is a source of what little food residents can obtain.

About 2,000 people possibly exposed to the diphtheria bacterium are being specifically targeted in the vaccination campaign, carried out by more than 80 vaccinators, the UN said.

With up to 8,000 people exposed in Camp Cannan, we can suggest the numbers may be much higher.
Diphtheria is an infectious disease that spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets from the throat through coughing and sneezing. The illness usually affects the tonsils, pharynx, larynx and occasionally the skin. Symptoms range from a moderately sore throat to toxic life-threatening diphtheria of the larynx or of the lower and upper respiratory tracts.
Here is our report on the lost voices of Camp Canaan and the Potemkin Village that is Camp Corail. It is urgent that they be heard.

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Much of this was published in the LA Progressive and OEN, but it desperately needs to be restated, especially in the wake of the diptheria outbreak.

Read more here.


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Chantal Laurent is a Haitian-American who blogs about Haiti, socio-economic, environmental and political issues at thehaitianblogger

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