Cholera epidemic spreading at alarming rate in Haiti following devastating hurricane

Posted by on Thursday, October 20, 2016 Under: Haiti Hurricane Matthew
Depuis l'ouragan, près de 300 personnes ont été contaminées par le choléra à Randelle.

A cholera epidemic that health officials worried would emerge amid the devastating hurricane Matthew in Haiti, is now spreading at an alarming rate in the island nation. Some 500 people and counting have been infected in the three weeks span after the storm that killed over 1.000 people and displaced another 350.000.

In the isolated and mountainous small rural villages in southwest Haiti, where hurricane Matthew caused the greatest damages, locals are struggling to find care for their loved ones who have succombe to the deadly illness. The nearest hospital is a three-hour-long walk. The roads, for the most part were impracticable even before torrential rains and flash floods caused by Matthew wiped them away. Relatives transport their sick ones, too weak to stand on their feet, on their back, as pictured above; and horseback. 

In the small southwestern town, Randell, there is only one nurse for the entire village, Marguerite Bernadin, her house was completely destroyed and she lost everything, but her priority has not change. Caring for the sick. Before the non profit organisation Samaritan Purse, set up a small cholera treatment center, Marguerite had somehow managed to set up a camp serving some 20 patients on a daily basis, a number that is likely to increase in the weeks in months to come as the epidemic makes a strong foothold.

"We don't have enough beds, medications, water treatments, everything"
said Marguerite to reporters visiting the area.

By inadvertance, the cholera virus was introduced to Haiti by Nepalese Peacekeepers, sent to Haiti in 2010 after a devastating earthquake that killed over 200.000. Nepal was going though a cholera epidemic at the time and a nepalese base was documented dumping human waste into Haiti's longest river. 

Since its introduction in Haiti, cholera has claimed the lives of nearly 10.000 people and sickened hundreds of thousands more. For six years, the UN categorically refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing despite the widespread scientific studies, even those commissioned by the United Nations itself, concluding that the bacteria came from Nepal. Last month, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, apologized to Haiti for the role that the world organisation had in the epidemic, but stop short of providing a legal mechanism for the victims to get some sort of compensations. The United Nations also continues to claims immunity in response to the many lawsuits filed in US courts seeking compensations for victims and their families; a claim which the Obama administration has urged the courts to uphold. 

Meanwhile, the UN is struggling to raise the $120 million it pleaded for to help Haiti deal with the outbreak in the wake of Matthew; so far it has only raised about $6.5 million.

In : Haiti Hurricane Matthew