SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2018

Nearly 300 cholera deaths reported in Haiti

There have now been nearly 300 reported deaths from the cholera outbreak that has gripped Haiti in recent weeks.

The number of new cases has apparently slowed, according to the BBC, but hundreds of new infections were still diagnosed on October 26. On that day, 25 people died of the disease, bringing the total number of deaths to 284. The number of reported cases is 3,612.

The United Nations is spearheading a group of aid agencies that are sustaining and expanding prevention efforts, particularly around the capital of Port-au-Prince. Chief among their concerns is a public information campaign on hygiene.

After a long absence, experts fear that cholera will become endemic in the island nation, joining malaria and tuberculosis.

"It's normal that we should expect a settlement of cholera in Haiti nationwide over the coming months," Dr. Michel Thieren of the Pan American Health Organization told Reuters news agency. Thieren added that the next major development would be cases in Port-au-Prince itself.

Federica Nogarotto of Medecins Sans Frontieres said that she believed the slowdown to be a good sign.

"It suggests that people are taking precautions and that there is a greater understanding in the community of the need to maintain strict hygiene and to seek medical assistance at the first sign of symptoms," Nogarotto told AFP.

Locals in the area are not always so positive. UN peacekeepers were called in to protect a treatment center after it had been attacked by youths that feared it would spread the disease.

The health ministry has announced that it will train 30,000 more workers for its anti-cholera campaign in the coming months and continue to open special treatment centers, including one in the capital. Port-au-Prince has seen isolated cases, but all from those that contracted the disease in other parts of the country.

There are some 1.3 million earthquake survivors living in tents in the capital. Poor sanitation in the camps and slums may contribute to the further spread of the disease, which is caused by bacteria transmitted through water or food.