16 Nov 2010 10:21:00 GMT
Source: Plan UK
SOME 7.5 million people living in rural Haiti are at high risk from ravages of cholera, children’s organization Plan International has warned.
The NGO has said that people living in isolated areas without services are under threat from the disease which has claimed hundreds of lives across the country.
Jim Emerson, Country Director of Plan in Haiti said that there is a need to mobilize a large humanitarian response quickly, since “rural areas hinder access to the kind of medical care and health services that could easily save thousands of lives.”
Plan has called upon the UN and government to step in and support the efforts of NGOs in combating cholera and not neglect the majority of people living outside the capital, especially the children who are especially vulnerable to the rapid dehydration associated with the highly preventable and treatable disease.
“With an aggressive bacteria such as cholera, time is of the essence. Without treatment, death can come in a matter of three hours,” said Emerson. “Which is why Plan is focusing on widespread education programs that teach people how not to get sick in the first place.”
More than 900 people are confirmed to have died from the disease to date with some 14,600 confirmed cases across the country. Hurricane Tomas brushed the west coast of Haiti earlier this month and contributed to a spike in the number of cases. It’s estimated that nearly as many people who were killed by the January 12, 2010 earthquake could be sickened by cholera in the coming months, if no significant action is taken.
Plan has been working with youths and families in around a 100 rural communities to help spread the awareness about the importance of good hygiene and drinking safe water. They are taught the signs and symptoms of cholera and what to do in case it strikes. Plan has also run hygiene awareness programs in over 260 schools.
Emergency health centres have also been set up to care for the infected and aid packages containing soap, water purification tablets, electrolytes and small treatment kits have been distributed to families. Plan has some 376,000 units of life-saving oral re-hydration salts on hand for distribution, which will benefit approximately 32,160 large families.