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On October 21, 2010, in the aftermath of the devastating January 2010 earthquake, the Haitian Ministry of Health and Population confirmed cases of cholera for the first time in at least a century. The U.S. Government was already on the ground, helping Haiti to build sustainable health systems to detect and combat the spread of communicable diseases, and therefore was in a position to respond quickly. At the request of the Government of Haiti, the U.S. Government immediately began working with the MSPP, the National Directorate for Potable Water and Sanitation (DINEPA), and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to lessen the severity of the outbreak.The U.S. Government, through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), provided expertise and financial support to the cholera response by:

  • Supporting cholera prevention and treatment efforts through social marketing and distribution of drinking water purification products, oral rehydration salts (which prevent dehydration in patients with acute, watery diarrhea), and soap for washing hands and household items.
  • Working side-by-side with the Ministry of Health and other partners to establish a national system for tracking cases of cholera, respond to cholera outbreaks, and routinely test suspected cases of cholera at the National Public Health Laboratory.
  • Supporting treatment for cholera and other diarrheal diseases at public and non-governmental organization health facilities nationwide at the height of the epidemic.
  • Training community health workers to conduct outreach activities on cholera prevention and treatment throughout Haiti.

USAID Strategy and Activities

Access to clean water and availability of sanitation systems are limited in Haiti, socholera is likely to persist until access to adequate water and sanitation improves. The U.S. Government is committed to strengthening the Haitian healthcare system to prevent and contain future outbreaks and treat those who become ill.

In line with the Ministry of Health’s desire to integrate cholera prevention and treatment into overall health programming, the U.S. Government is working more broadly on the prevention and treatment of all causes of diarrheal diseases. To reduce vulnerability to cholera and other diarrheal diseases, the U.S. Government is providing the Government of Haiti and other partners with support to improve access to treated drinking water at the community and household levels in urban and rural communities. In addition, the U.S. Government, in collaboration with PAHO, UNICEF, and the Governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, helped launch the Coalition for the Elimination of Cholera on the island of Hispaniola, which aims to coordinate and leverage water, sanitation, and hygiene  efforts that contribute to the elimination of cholera on the island.

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