Washington, DC, October 29, 2010 (PAHO)—Since the start of the current cholera outbreak in Haiti, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has distributed more than 64,000 sachets of oral rehydration salts, more than 3,500 liters of intravenous (IV) fluids, and more than 180,000 antibiotic tablets to treat patients suffering from the disease.
PROMESS, a PAHO-managed warehouse in Port-au-Prince that is the main source of essential medicines and medical supplies in Haiti, has distributed these supplies free of charge to hospitals and health facilities, including many that are staffed by international nongovernmental organizations.
Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP - Ministère de la santé publique et de la population) has reported 4,649 cases of cholera and 305 deaths in four departments since October 20. Artibonite and Central are the most affected areas. The ministry has established a flexible surveillance system to collect daily data on cholera, taking into account the Internally Displaced Persons Surveillance System (IDPSS) to create a clear picture of the disease trend.
PAHO continues to mobilize international experts in epidemiology, risk communication, case management, laboratory, water and sanitation, logistics, and supply management systems to Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by exposure to or ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Up to 80 percent of cases can be successfully treated with oral rehydration salts. Worldwide, there are an estimated 3–5 million cholera cases and 100,000–120,000 deaths every year. Provision of safe water and sanitation is critical to reducing the impact of cholera and other waterborne diseases.
PAHO was made aware of concerns regarding a request this week for cholera-related supplies by the U.S.–based nongovernmental organization J/P HRO. PAHO’s inquiry into the matter determined that J/P HRO requested and received 500 IV catheters, 2,000 liters of IV fluids, 10,000 doxycycline tablets, and body bags from PROMESS since the start of the cholera outbreak. A delay in distributing 1,000 liters of IV fluids occurred when PROMESS attempted to verify directly with medical personnel at the St. Nicolas Hospital in Artibonite whether these fluids were urgently needed, as they are currently in short supply. J/P HRO did receive the fluids and reportedly delivered them to St. Nicolas Hospital later the same day.
PROMESS continues to procure and distribute cholera-related supplies free of charge to all healthcare providers registered with Haiti’s Ministry of Health. Staff of both PAHO and PROMESS are strongly committed to doing everything they can to meet the health needs of Haitians.
PAHO is coordinating efforts with other UN agencies and with health officials in the United States and Canada. Relief efforts continue as the Haitian government, MINUSTAH, UN agencies and NGOs continue to provide assistance in a growing number of locations.
PROMESS (“Programme de Médicaments Essentiels”) is the principal provider of essential medicines and medical supplies in the Republic of Haiti. It was created in 1992 with funding from the World Bank, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United States, UNFPA, UNICEF, and the European Commission, as well as partners in Haiti’s Management Council, chaired by the Minister of Public Health.
Following the January 12 earthquake, PROMESS played a critical role in receiving and distributing international medical relief aid. Between January 12 and the end of February, PROMESS distributed nearly US$ 2.5 million in medicines and supplies free of charge to some 250 different organizations.
Daniel Epstein, email:
, tel + 1 202 974 3459, mobile +1 202 316 5679 or Donna Eberwine-Villagran, email:
, tel +1 202 974 3122, Knowledge Management and Communication, PAHO/WHO – www.paho.org