WFP Response to Cholera Outbreak in Haiti
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Published on 24 October 2010

A child in St. Marc with a packet of high energy biscuits supplied by WFP on 24 Oct 2010

(Copyright: WFP/Stephanie Tremblay)

In response to the outbreak of cholera in central regions of Haiti, WFP has begun distribution of ready-to-eat meals and High Energy Biscuits at hospitals in Saint-Marc, Mirebalais and Lascahobas. This food should ensure hospital staff and patients have access to safe food that does not require water for its preparation.

PORT-AU-PRINCE -- WFP has started the distribution of 9,000 ready-to-eat meals (MREs) as well as High Energy Biscuits (HEBs) at the Saint-Nicolas’ hospital in Saint-Marc, one of the areas in the Artibonite department most affected by the outbreak of cholera.

Deliveries will continue on a daily basis and quantities will be adjusted according to the hospital’s needs. The food was given to hospital staff and patients to ensure access to safe food that does not require water for its preparation.

In Mirebalais in the Central Plateau region, 2,000 MREs and HEBs were delivered to the local hospital. In Lascahobas, 500 MREs and HEBs were delivered to the community hospital.

WFP is assessing potential food assistance to other locations in the Artibonite/Central Plateau regions, where the cholera outbreak began.

Humanitarian support 

The WFP-led Logistics Cluster continues to provide support to the humanitarian community in coordination with the Haitian government. It has provided emergency materials to the crisis zones for the French Red Cross, Médicins du Monde Canada, World Health Organization (WHO) and International Relief and Development.

WFP has also dispatched a member of the logistics cluster to assist the WHO in the Health Structure Assessment in Saint Marc.

The support includes airlifting of chorine bags to all water pipeline systems in the affected areas by the WFP-managed United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS). The airlift, requested by the Haitian Department for Drinkable Water (Direction Nationale De l’Eau Potable Et de l’Assainissement - DINEPA) and the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Cluster (WASH), will gradually spread out to cover the rest of the country. Chlorine is used to purify contaminated water.

Upon request from the departmental health authorities, Direction Départementale de la Santé, WFP is transporting medical kit from Hinche to Mirebalais.

While supporting immediate response, WFP is also putting in place preparedness measures to respond to a potential increase in numbers and to other parts of the country, including the capital Port-au-Prince.

As of October 24, the Haitian Ministry of Health had confirmed 3,015 cases of cholera and 253 deaths. All confirmed cases and deaths are in the Departments of Artibonite and Central Plateau.

The Ministry has declared a state of emergency in Artibonite and placed the rest of Haiti on high alert. The St-Nicolas hospital in St Marc is now filled to capacity and other health facilities in the area are struggling to cope with the influx of patients.

Meanwhile, regular WFP activities in the area are ongoing to ensure the most vulnerable continue to receive food assistance.