The cholera outbreak has drastically decreased and no cases have been confirmed since February 2019
Maria Luisa Fornara
At the center of a socio-political crisis exacerbated by food insecurity, malnutrition, migration challenges and vulnerability to natural disasters, Haiti announces good news that should not go unnoticed: the cholera epidemic has declined significantly drastic and no case has been confirmed since February 2019.
According to the Ministry of Public Health and Population of Haiti (MSPP), the number of suspected cases of cholera was reduced by 81% in 2019, compared to the same period last year. If it is still early to declare victory, the fact that there are no more new cases of cholera confirmed after 10 months, is a message full of hope for a country where, since 2010, it is estimated that more than 9,000 people have died from the epidemic, and 800,000 have suffered from cholera-like diarrhea. The possibility that complete elimination of cholera can be declared is decisive in Haiti, a country facing recurring crises.
To consolidate the achievements of the fight against cholera in Haiti, the MSPP, UNICEF and implementing partners have pledged to continue working together. With the help of a network of rapid response teams and a surveillance and early warning system at the community level, they watch for any signs of resurgence of the epidemic, in order to control it permanently. This innovative plan and teamwork are about to bear fruit.
However, being so close to achieving the elimination of cholera also forces us not to let our guard down and remain vigilant. One last impetus is needed and to make it possible, international support is needed. UNICEF needs $ 19 million by 2020 to meet all the humanitarian needs related to child survival and development in Haiti, including $ 4 million to support continued surveillance, rapid response to suspected cases of cholera and other diarrheal diseases and preventive actions of access to drinking water and hygiene promotion. With this contribution, we hope that the epidemic can be eliminated.
Although cholera could be eliminated from Haiti by 2019, UNICEF is aware that humanitarian needs remain immense and could increase in 2020 due to the crisis environment that has prevailed for more than a year. At present, some 850,000 people are vulnerable and need access to basic health services, mostly maternal and child health. An estimated 3.7 million Haitians do not have enough to eat, including 1.5 million children.
One of the major challenges is acute malnutrition among children under five. The current crisis has put additional pressure on the nutritional situation of children, which is already worrying. Until a SMART survey is conducted to update rates of malnutrition, $ 3 million is needed to care for at least 65,530 children.
As we have been doing for decades, UNICEF will also continue its efforts to respond to the humanitarian needs of Haitian children, by strengthening immunization against preventable diseases, pre- and neonatal care, supporting vulnerable populations with water, sanitation and hygiene. hygiene, protection and assistance to children who are victims of abuse, exploitation and family separation due to natural disasters, insecurity or migration, and the implementation of a school upgrading program for children. children whose schools have remained closed since September 2019.