Tragically, the earthquake was not the only disaster to strike Haiti in 2010. In late October 2010, cholera broke out in Artibonite, a rural region north of Port-au-Prince. International Medical Corps was one of the very first organizations to respond and had medical staff on the ground in Artibonite days before the outbreak was confirmed to be cholera.
International Medical Corps aggressively rolled out a network of cholera treatment centers (CTCs) and mobile medical units in Haiti’s most remote and affected areas to care for more than 39,700 cholera patients.
Because cholera was a new disease in Haiti, the majority of the country’s health workers had never seen it before the outbreak. International Medical Corps made the Ministry of Health (MoH) and local doctors, nurses, and community health workers central to its cholera response. International Medical Corps trained and mentored more than 1,200 doctors, nurses, and community health workers so that our network of CTCs were established and staffed largely by local health professionals and could eventually be handed over to the MoH and be a part of the country’s long-term infrastructure to prevent and treat cholera.
In the South Department, 14-percent of cholera cases resulted in death until International Medical Corps took over the area’s two largest CTCs. One month later, the fatality rate fell to 2.5 percent. Two months later, it was 0.5 percent. This success is largely due to the fact that International Medical Corps trains local health professionals to handle cholera and then mobilizes entire communities - from mayor to villager - in the fight against cholera. We also reached 723,255 community members with cholera awareness and prevention messages.
A focus on water and sanitation projects has laid the foundation necessary for Haiti to eradicate cholera in the long term, through building latrines, hand washing stations, and waste disposal systems across urban and rural locations. International Medical Corps incorporates water and sanitation into all of our community-based programs so that public health is not only possible, but sustainable.