The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said that the 2016-2018 plan draws on lessons learnt since the cholera epidemic began in Haiti in 2010.
It calls for US$178 million in investments to improve coordination among national and international partners, ensure rapid response to outbreaks, and implement cholera vaccination, water chlorination, and improvements in sanitation, with a focus on areas considered cholera “hot spots.”
The plan was presented in draft form last week to representatives of the international community in Haiti and was the focus of a September 8 meeting of the Regional Coalition to Eliminate Cholera in Hispaniola, held at PAHO headquarters here.
In addition to PAHO, which serves as the coalition’s secretariat, other members and supporters include the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies, the World Bank, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Agency for International Development, GHESKIO, Zanmi Lasante, World Vision, and other bilateral agencies and nongovernmental organizations.
PAHO pointed to recent epidemiological data that show that 26,799 people were reportedly sickened by cholera in Haiti between January 1 and August 27, 2016, or an average of 788 per week.
This number is higher than the weekly averages for 2014 (559 per week) and 2015 (693per week), although significantly lower than the average 6,766 cases per week reported during 2011, according to PAHO.
It said the number of reported cholera deaths has dropped from the 3,951 recorded in 2010 to 322 deaths in 2015, and 242 deaths so far in 2016.
PAHO said this is partly the result of a decline in the case fatality rate (deaths as a percentage of all cases) from 2.08 percent in 2010 to 0.9 percent in 2016,“signifying improved access to and quality of treatment.”
“Coalition members said the evidence suggests that cholera is likely to remain a significant public health burden for years—or could even worsen—unless Haiti receives sufficient support to effectively fight the disease,” PAHO said.
“Haiti still has, after six years of cholera interventions, unacceptably high numbers of ongoing cases of cholera,” said PAHO Deputy Director Isabella Danel.
“Unless the number of new cases is dramatically reduced, cholera will continue to be a major disease burden for the people of Haiti.”
PAHO said the current draft plan follows a short-term plan that was carried out during 2012-2015 and is part of a 10-year national plan that extends to 2022.
Danel said long-term action to improve water and sanitation infrastructure is key, adding that, “until every Haitian has access to clean water and sanitation, the threat of cholera or its reintroduction into the country will not disappear”.
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