Sunday, October 24, 2010

Haiti on precipice of cholera disaster

World Worst Disasters
“Yes, I’ve confirmed that today,” says Claude Surena, conveying the grimmest possible news. “There are five cases confirmed in Port-au-Prince.”

Over the course of a very long day Saturday Surena, president of the Haitian Medical Association, had repeatedly asked for more time in answering the question everyone wanted answered: has the cholera epidemic breached the Artibonite region, moving south of Saint-Marc and into Haiti’s overcrowded, often fetid and tent-cluttered capital?

By Saturday night there was no other answer.

“Be careful, be careful,” has become a watch phrase. Drink only bottled water. SMS messages are being sent by the Red Cross through cellphone providers Voila and Digicel on how to identify “kolera” (grey diarrhea, vomiting) and how to prevent against its spread (bottled water, hand washing). Do not panic is the main message. Followed by get yourself to a clinic within four hours should you experience the signature symptoms.

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