International Medical Corps began cholera prevention operations in Haiti in November 2010, after the first cholera case was diagnosed in Les Cayes on November 8, 2010. During the end of 2010 and first half of 2011, International Medical Corps operated three Cholera Treatment Centres in Les Cayes, Aquin, and Cavaillon. We then expanded our activities through a one year Cholera Treatment and Prevention Response program supported by the American Red Cross. Through this project, International Medical Corps constructed latrines, incinerators, hand washing facilities, water tanks and bucket chlorination points. We reached over 307,465 beneficiaries, including:
• 3,072 new patients treated
• 34 clinical staff and 126 non-clinical staff trained on cholera treatment protocols, disinfection techniques, infection control and hygiene promotion at the medical site level
• 55,176 house-to-house visits
• 80,395 people reached through cholera prevention/hygiene promotion messaging during 5,207 group sessions
• 59,387 beneficiaries received hygiene items (water purification tablets, soaps, hand sanitizers, hygiene kits, water containers)
From the start of the program, International Medical Corps aimed to facilitate a robust hand-over of the program to the Government of Haiti by focusing on training and cooperation with partners. To encourage community participation and ensure sustainability, we established and trained water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) committees. Our community outreach team carried out targeted behaviour-change communication messaging, including the concept of community-led total sanitation.
International Medical Corps believes in working at the community level through locally adapted methods. In Haiti, women play an important role within the family and community, and are generally responsible for preparing food, collecting water, and caring for children, the sick and the elderly. This makes them critical conveyers of information on community needs; women also play a role in decision-making in their families and through established community networks. In recognition of women’s key roles, International Medical Corps forged relationships with various women’s associations in and around Les Cayes through informal partnerships to facilitate local penetration of cholera prevention messaging at the family and community level. These organizations include Association Fanm Integral Guilleme Jogue (AFAGIJ), based in Torbeck, Cayes and Federation des Femmes de Maniche (FEFEM). AFAGIJ is an umbrella organization consisting of 19 women associations with over 600 members. FEFEM is an umbrella organization grouping 38 women’s associations and over 1,000 members.
Faith groups in Haiti also shape behaviour and disseminate vital information, including health-promotion messages, in their communities. International Medical Corps thus established partnerships for cholera sensitization and distribution activities with two faith-based organizations based in Les Cayes, L’Unite des Eglises Evangelique du Jardin Gethsemane d’Haiti (55 members) and Groupe Inter-eglise de Priere (60 members). These informal relationships facilitated church-based sensitization, distribution activities and access to similar faith-based groups. In addition, International Medical Corps partnered with two community organizations, Pitye Pou Timoun Yo in Bizoton 55, and La Jeunesse En Mouvement in Route de Railles. Both organizations played a large role in providing land for oral rehydration points, mobilizing community support and organizing community distributions, including helping to find the most vulnerable members of the community.