Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Notes from the field in Haiti

This provided by a medical worker

Notes From The EpiCenter: We Are Out Of... Everything
I am sad to report that things have worsened significantly and in 3 camps (St. Marc being the hardest hit that I have seen yet) have 76 known cholera deaths and 1,709 confirmed cases. The death toll of 76, I received yesterday from [REDACTED] was the count over approximately (the last) ten days in one camp. There are many more deaths from other camps and although some of us traveling to the rural areas are trying to remain in contact, it is nearly impossible. We are out of ORS - oral rehydration solution, pedialyte, IV fluids and tubing -- everything. The situation in the tent camps/cities is already full of unspeakable horrors and now for those with cholera the sight is just gruesome.

The rural camps, hardest hit by cholera are in the worst situation because there is NO relief aid presence and no UN presence. During this last trip it would take almost 5 hours to drive from St. Marc back to Port au Prince to try and secure supplies. We are purchasing ORS, water, and pedialyte (now absent from stores because we are buying so much of it). [REDACTED] gave me 10 cases of pedialyte and some other supplies, which is all they could afford because they feared an outbreak in Port au Prince. Finally, after running out of medications, fluids, etc. and being turned away from most all sources for medical supplies, including the UN, there was no way to help those suffering from cholera. It was simply too difficult to watch another baby die of dehydration and I came home to recover from the worst week I'd experienced in Haiti since the earthquake.

I cannot begin to explain how much worse the situation is in Haiti and how there is very little coordination of any relief aid or the NGO's. The following is the mission statement of the UN for its mission in Haiti. It is not being carried out now during this cholera outbreak and has not been carried out since the earthquake, which is more than a failure to the Haitian people.

"The mission of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is to mobilize and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors."

I have shared all my findings with the CDC in order to give them as much data as I can gather for their investigators. I have also given our findings to the MOH and OCHA - mainly for informational purposes because I've given up the hope of obtaining necessary supplies. I wish the news was better and sadly the deaths will continue because there is little to no support available for those providers in rural areas. There is very little available in the way of supplies even in the larger cities now facing patients with cholera. I am contacting organizations here at home to try and get the ORS, which comes in small packets, donated so I can take it back on my next trip.

Again, for everyone attending today's demonstration - thank you and it is with much appreciation that people are standing up to demand accountability for Haiti. There are not words in any language to describe life for her people or the heart wrenching feeling watching them die of neglect and indifference. It is why I continue asking the question, "When does indifference become a crime against humanity."

I will be attending the January 8th demonstration and sadly, I do not expect to have better news - I expect it will continue to worsen. Please know that I have spoken with [REDACTED] and several of my friends, this morning to tell them about your demonstration - and they send their love, appreciation, and prayers to each of you on behalf of the Haitian people.

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