Last week, as Tropical Storm Emily threatened to cause widespread flooding and landslides in the Caribbean, our team in Haiti sprung into action to prepare our cholera treatment centers for an increase in cases.
Haiti’s topography is prone to both flooding and landslides – perfect conditions for the spread of water-borne diseases like cholera. Flash floods are possible in low-lying areas, such as Gonaives and Carrefour, while strong winds can destroy tents and unstable structures, such as those found in the camps where people are still living.
As the storm approached, Sean Casey, our Haiti Country Director explained: “We are very concerned that heavy flooding will occur as a result of Emily, which will likely lead to a dramatic increase in the spread of cholera. We are preparing all of our cholera treatment facilities and pre-positioning medicines and supplies so that we can continue to treat our most severe patients and to prepare for a likely increase in cases after the storm.”
In Les Cayes, International Medical Corps relocated 27 severe cholera patients out of our tented cholera treatment center into a safe, permanent structure, where they could continue to receive 24-hour care and be protected from the storm. Our team also pre-positioned an emergency room physician at Port-au-Prince’s University Hospital to prepare for the possibility of an increased patient load. They reinforced tents and other temporary structures, stocked our facilities with medicines and supplies, and ensured that vehicles and generators were fueled and ready.
Thankfully, Emily did not directly impact Haiti; there were strong winds and rains to the south but no damage to our program sites. However, heavy rains will likely drive an increase in cholera cases, and with your support, International Medical Corps is ready to respond and meet an increased caseload. Our staff remains on the ground in Haiti more than 18 months after the earthquake, helping to support and rebuild the country’s fragile healthcare infrastructure and provide ongoing treatment. Thank you.