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Posted By: John P. Howe, III, M.D. on October 26, 2010

Labels: Haiti , Humanitarian Aid

The world’s attention is once again focused on Haiti. In the face of this new crisis, Project HOPE is on the scene delivering humanitarian assistance.

The Haiti Ministry of Health contacted Project HOPE’s in-country office last week to inform us about a rapid increase in the number of reported cholera cases in the country’s Northwest region known as the Artibonite River Valley.

Our emergency response was set in action. Project HOPE soon delivered its first shipment of relief supplies to the city of Desdunes, a city in the Artibonite River Valley with a population of 40,000.

The relief supplies, which included antibacterial hand gels, Pedialyte oral rehydration, Life Straw water purifiers and bottled drinking water, were gratefully received by the Ministry of Health staff in Desdunes.

The desperate need for something as basic as antibacterial hand gel was experienced, in person, by a member of the HOPE staff. After the delivery of humanitarian supplies, our team was on its way back to Port-au-Prince. When they stopped for food along the road, the store clerk came up and said, “Please save my life. Do you have any hand gel?”

Our staff member returned to the truck and collected his three personal bottles of hand gel and gave them to the clerk, who then gave two of the bottles to a young boy and girl. It was then that he understood how worried the people in the affected area are about the outbreak.

In addition to supplies, a six-person team of HOPE volunteers from the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston arrived this morning at L'hopital Albert Schweitzer in Deschapelles to augment our team of volunteers, already at the hospital, engaged in the care of cholera patients. Dr. Larry Ronan, a long-time HOPE volunteer, leads the MGH physicians and nurses.

As more details become available from our team in Haiti, I look forward to sharing them with you, through my blog and on the HOPE website.

Again, thank you for your support of HOPE’s emergency relief efforts for the many Haitians now in need.

At the request of the Haiti Minister of Health, Project HOPE has responded swiftly to the country’s cholera outbreak.

Yesterday, an additional six HOPE volunteers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston arrived at L’hopital Albert Schweitzer in Deschapelles, located in the Artibonite River Valley, the ground-zero for the cholera epidemic with a population of 300,000.

The good news is that these HOPE volunteers, when they arrived, found fewer patients being admitted with cholera. That said, they are now treating 60 cholera patients in a facility that normally has 80 beds -- and is still caring for patients with long-term injuries from the January earthquake.

In addition to patient care, the HOPE volunteers will train area residents, throughout the Artibonite Valley, how to prevent the spread of the disease with good personal hygiene and proper food handling, as well as clean water usage. Even with the current numbers of cholera patients at L’hopital Albert Schweitzer, it is still early in the disease outbreak process.

In keeping with our intent to do all we can to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the spread of the disease, HOPE will be sending two additional volunteer physicians from the MGH to Haiti on Thursday, one a pediatric and the other an adult specialist in infectious diseases.

For the health of the Haitian people, we are working hard to reduce widespread suffering and death from the cholera outbreak. Your support means much to HOPE. I look forward to sharing my next update with you.

John

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