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World Water Day highlights fight against cholera in Haiti

22 March 2011

A Red Cross community nurse in Haiti demonstrating hygiene techniques.© InfoToday is World Water Day, and nowhere is the importance of safe drinking water and basic sanitation clearer than in Haiti.

Cholera has spread rapidly there since the first outbreaks in October 2010. This is due to the fact the country has virtually no sanitation or health facilities and people know very little about the disease.

Treating cholera

Rosier Rosandrelle, a community nurse working for the British Red Cross, has been helping to prevent and treat the cholera in remote rural areas.

Describing her experience in the isolated village of De Mapou, Rosier said: “I came across one lady who was being carried on a stretcher by four people and I asked them if they had given her oral rehydration salts (ORS), and they replied ‘no’, because they knew nothing about it. So I prepared ORS for them and she made it to the cholera treatment centre and later recovered.”

Education saves lives

Red Cross volunteers have been working in De Mapou to teach residents about how to tackle cholera since the beginning of the outbreak.

Charity Sikamo, a British Red Cross cholera and health delegate, has already seen a change in rural communities: “People now know they can be treated and get better, and that going to the clinic doesn’t mean you will come out in a body bag.”

Training spreads information

A critical part of the Red Cross approach is to train volunteers who live in the villages who can then continue to spread this simple and life-saving information. Six new Red Cross volunteers were trained in De Mapou and they now travel to other remote communities further up the mountains to spread their new knowledge. More than 200 volunteers have been trained in the South department, which is one of Haiti’s ten districts.

Rosier explains: “We do this job to stop people from dying. People can’t respond to cholera alone. We give them knowledge and help people fight cholera.”

More about tackling cholera in Haiti on our blog

Read about the Red Cross response to the Haiti earthquake


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