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domingo, noviembre 14, 2010

Haiti: The Suffering Overflows

Forgive that this diary is too short.

The New York Times his evening is reporting that the cholera epidemic in Haiti is growing rapidly:

The death toll in Haiti’s cholera epidemic has reached more than 900, the government reported Sunday, as aid groups rushed soap and clean water to a disaster-wracked population to fight the disease.

The Ministry of Health reported that as of Friday, there had been 917 deaths and more than 14,600 were hospitalized with cholera-like symptoms. That is up from the 724 deaths and 11,125 hospitalizations reported a few days before.

The disease has been found in 6 of Haiti’s 10 provinces, known as departments, and is most severe where it originated, in Artibonite, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of the deaths.

Several epidemiologists have said the disease has not peaked and will likely worsen and break out in other regions of the country, with United Nations health officials estimating about 270,000 may be sickened in the coming years.

And the disease has clearly arrived in Port au Prince, where hundreds of thousands still are living in tents or under tarps or are homeless:

Hospitals in Port-au-Prince, where more than one million earthquake refugees live in congested, squalid tent encampments, are overflowing with patients exhibiting cholera symptoms, and the death toll there has reached 27. The disease was first reported in the capital on Nov. 8.

President René Préval, at a conference on the disease on Sunday in Port-au-Prince, urged people to wash their hands frequently and drink only potable water, The Associated Press reported. But even before the earthquake, most of the population lacked access to clean water and sanitation.

There is very little you and I can do about this other than stand by in horror and watch thousands of people die of the disease. What we can do is two things: we can make a donation to ngo's who are on the scene providing medicine and care for stricken people. I recommend Doctors Without Borders, but there are many other ngo's doing exemplary work in Haiti.

And we can get on the phones and send email and write letters urging our congresspersons to make sure that the 1.15 billion appropriated after the January earthquake is actually delivered to Haiti. There is an immediate need for $170 million for cholera care; that could be eased if the US funds are released.

I am sorry that I didn't provide you with links. And I am sorry that I have been writing basically the same diary for the past week with little attention. It is the least I can do. All that remains is to offer prayers for the health and safety of Haiti's people.

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