As the cholera crisis worsens in Haiti, the Red Cross has reached more than two million people with simple messages about how they could limit their chances of becoming sick.
Alastair Burnett, British Red Cross recovery manager, who has just returned from Haiti, said: “The value of information should not be underestimated in response to the cholera crisis.
“Yes, we must focus on treatment, but if we want to stop the spread of the disease then making sure people know how to avoid infection and recognise the symptoms is critical. We can see that people are crying out for basic information.”
Text message campaign
The Red Cross carried out a massive text message awareness campaign reaching around two million people living in Artibonite and Port-au-Prince at the beginning of the outbreak. As a result, at least 75,000 people have called a freephone Red Cross information line to access information on cholera.
The Red Cross has also been using its weekly radio programme (Radio Croix Rouge Haitienne), radio adverts, and sound trucks to spread cholera prevention messages. In addition, more than 1,000 trained Haitian Red Cross volunteers have been active across the country disseminating this crucial information.
Treating the sick
The number of patients at the British Red Cross cholera observation centre at La Piste, a camp of around 50,000 people in Port-au-Prince, continues to increase.
“At least 300 people have been treated at our cholera centre since it opened on 8 November,” said Borry Jatta, British Red Cross sanitation expert in Haiti’s capital.
“Due to the increasing need we are now also opening rehydration treatment points in other camps and urban areas of Port-au-Prince affected by the earthquake. In the overcrowded camps the disease can spread quickly and it is essential that we have places where trained nurses are on hand to isolate and treat suspected cases.”
Find out more about our work in Haiti