Expert: Behavior must change to prevent cholera in Haiti

Jason Hayes, a representative with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, recently said in a report that the only effective way to counteract cholera is to change the way people in Haiti come into contact with water.

Despite the many campaigns to spread information on preventing cholera using water treatment and hand washing, there has not been a sustained change in behavior, Huffington Post reports.

"Did Haitians lack the resources necessary to wash their hands, defecate in the right places, and drink treated water, or were they choosing not to do so?" Hayes said, according to Huffington Post. "The answer, in many places, is both. In public health, the disciplines of social and behavioral sciences attempt to vivisect the relationship between programs and their acceptance in communities."

Hayes noted the unfortunate gap between the information and knowledge given to Haitians and actions taken.

"The goal is to accurately chart every factor that will influence behavioral change." Hayes said, according to the Huffington Post. "(Haitian government agencies) are working to create infrastructure that will protect people from disease, but it will be a long time before the pipes reach (rural areas). Until then, the burden of healthy behaviors remains on the shoulders of individual Haitians, both those with the financial and logistical capacity to carry the weight -- and those without."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cholera is an illness caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacterium that spreads via contaminated water or food sources. The disease causes approximately 100,000 deaths annually.