MONDAY, JUNE 25, 2018

Haiti now has the highest rate of cholera globally

According to a leading health expert, Haiti now has the highest rate of cholera in the world a mere year after the disease first arrived in the nation.
Dr. Paul Farmer, the U.N. deputy special envoy to Haiti and one of the founders of the medical group Partners in Health, said that cholera has sickened more than 450,000 people in the nation of 10 million, which equates to nearly five percent of the population. The disease has killed more than 6,000 people, the Associated Press reports.
Farmer said that only one year after cholera's arrival, it is already on the verge of becoming the leading cause of death by infectious disease in the country.
“It’s freakin’ incredible,” Farmer said by telephone, according to the Associated Press. “In 365 days, you go from no cases to the largest number in the world.”
Farmer said that cholera is likely to become endemic to Haiti. He attributes the spread to what he describes as Haiti's status as the "most water insecure" country in the world, meaning many people have insufficient access to clean water. Haiti has long had issues with proper sanitation due to its poverty but sanitation conditions in urban areas become much worse after last year's earthquake forced people to set up makeshift shelters.
Despite the spread of the disease, Farmer said it would be possible to wipe out the disease by improving Haiti's water system and sanitation and increasing the emphasis on education and oral vaccines.
“To eradicate cholera we’re going to have to vaccinate huge numbers of people,” Farmer said, according to the Associated Press. “It’s going to require a massive campaign like polio.”