International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Cholera after the earthquake [New photos from Haiti]

Cholera after the quake

  • The most important prevention is to provide clean drinking water. The IRC provides water in several camps around Haiti.
  • It is also important to disinfect water once it is collected since many people are using buckets that are already contaminated. IRC teams stand by water collection points and squirt pre-mixed doses of chlorine into people's buckets. This is one of the most effective ways to prevent the disease and ensures that water is safe right up until people drink it.
  • At each camp where IRC works, the teams check the chlorine levels of drinking water in people's homes to make sure that they are drinking safe water.
  • Haiti receives a lot of rainfall and unfortunately this increases the spread of the disease. As you can see, many of the channels and water run-off canals are clogged with waste and litter.
  • IRC teams are also working on clearing these canals.
  • IRC sanitation teams also build latrines in each of the camps to make sure that human waste is deposited in closed collection areas that cannot infect water supplies.
  • At the IRC clinic, patients are screened for diarrhea and dehydration. Patients are also instructed in how to prevent diarrhea and how to treat dehydration.
  • In each camp, the IRC has constructed bright yellow kiosks. This is where residents can come to get oral rehydration solution for sick family members. They receive small rehydration packets filled with minerals and sugar to mix with water. For someone with dehydration, this simple liquid will replace their lost fluids and save their life.
  • In a cholera epidemic, there is often panic, superstitious rumors, and misconceptions about the illness. One of the most important things that IRC teams are doing is intensive health education in each of the camps. Crowds gather around the IRC educators and are taught clean water handling, mixing rehydration fluid, hand-washing, and the importance of using latrines.
  • Hand-washing is a critical way to prevent the spread of the disease. IRC teams give a detailed demonstration on how to aggressively clean your hands to make sure you don't catch or spread the disease.
  • These smiling children have escaped the cholera outbreak and if they keep IRC's health education messages in mind, they will be free from this disease until the epidemic is over.

IRC cholera response teams are working in 30 camps throughout Port-au-Prince, Haiti teaching earthquake survivors about the deadly disease, how to treat it and how to prevent it. 

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One year ago today a massive earthquake killed 230,000 people in Haiti and left more than a million homeless. Now, Haitians who are still struggling to recover from the quake are dealing with yet another crisis: an outbreak of cholera that started just a couple of months ago.

Cholera is a very deadly bacterial disease spread by contaminated water. When someone drinks water that has been infected by human waste, they quickly become sick with violent vomiting and diarrhea.

The diarrhea from cholera is so acute that a person can lose 10-20% of their body weight in just a few hours. The cause of death is rapid dehydration.

Fortunately this disease is easy to treat and even easier to prevent. International Rescue Committee cholera response teams are operating in 30 camps throughout the capital Port-au-Prince teaching people about the disease, how to treat it, and how to prevent it.  I took these photos of some of the teams at work over the past week.



haiti need our help

haiti need our help

miss u Haiti n <3

miss u Haiti n <3