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Seattle Times Looks At Response To Haitian Cholera Outbreak On The Ground

Though Haiti’s cholera “epidemic continues to spread, infecting more than 125,000 people and killing more than 3,200,” it seems to have “stabilized in” the town of Mirebalais, which is close to the “U.N. camp of Nepalese peacekeepers who are under investigation as a possible source” of the outbreak, the Seattle Times reports in a story outlining how aid groups and health workers are dealing with the situation.

“Mirebalais was the second major area hit by cholera and the scene of rioting by Haitians who blamed the peacekeepers for unleashing the disease,” the Seattle Times writes. Pierre-Marie Cherenfant, a physician, “said the hospital [in the area] treated up to 100 gravely ill patients per day in early November. By late December, those admissions had dropped to about 20 to 30 per day,” according to the newspaper. “The Mirebalais patients are treated in tents set up behind the hospital. Everyone who enters or leaves the area must have their feet sprayed with disinfectant. … Cherenfant says more than 99 percent of those who make it to the hospital survive. It is much more difficult to document what is happening elsewhere.”

Broad education efforts have been launched around the country. “People are urged to come to the hospital at the first sign of symptoms. But that’s not easy for those who live along deep-rutted roads and lack motor vehicles. Also, many Haitians simply defecate in fields and, if infected, can spread the disease,” the newspaper reports. Mercy Corps has been displaying a range of portable toilets to promote better sanitation. The group is also using music to communicate messages about good hygiene (Bernton, 1/3).

Media Highlights Earthquake Survivors’ Healing, Resilience As Quake’s One Year Anniversary Approaches

“After a year of almost unfathomable hardship in Haiti, there is little reason to be hopeful now. More than a million displaced people still live under tents and tarpaulins. Reconstruction, of the build-back-better kind envisioned last March, has barely begun. Officials’ sole point of pride six months after the earthquake – that disease and violence had been averted – vanished with the outbreak of cholera and political unrest over a disputed presidential election,” the New York Times writes.

“Yet despite this gloomy backdrop, many Haitians … have started to find some equilibrium – to heal, to rebuild or simply to readjust their sights,” according to the article, which highlights the story of five different Haitians reconstructing their lives after last January’s earthquake (Sontag, 1/3).

AlertNet has also started a blog featuring “ordinary Haitians with remarkable stories of the earthquake and its aftermath.” Over the next week, the blog will publish “14 stories of earthquake survivors … From the homeless schoolgirl who studies science by candlelight to the doctor who built a makeshift operating theatre in the ruins of a hospital, these are stories of resilience, ingenuity and courage” (Large, 1/3).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.