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UNICEF assists in disseminating cholera prevention information in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, 28 October 2010 – In addition to providing medical supplies, UNICEF is assisting government and humanitarian aid partners in carrying out cholera information and training sessions with health care workers and hygiene promoters so they are better prepared to raise public awareness in the capital of Port-au-Prince.

UNICEF is also supporting cholera awareness and hygiene promotion activities in schools and IDP camps and through mass media in Port-au-Prince and areas surrounding the Artibonite River, where the majority of cholera cases have originated.

The messages will help familiarize the public with the precautions they can take to protect themselves from contracting the disease. The messages encourage sanitation measures, such as washing hands with soap before handling food and after using the latrine, drinking only clean, chlorinated or boiled water and keeping away from those affected by the cholera outbreak. Additional messages address the need for proper disposal of human excrement and garbage and eating only cooked or peeled food.

The Haitian Ministry of Health yesterday reported that hospitalizations due to cholera totalled
4,649. The departments with confirmed cases are: Artibonite (76.5 per cent), Central (22.9 per cent). The ministry lists the total number of deaths due to cholera now as 305.

“We are increasing our response activities in affected areas using several approaches,” says Jean-Claude Mubalama, Health Section Head for UNICEF Haiti. “We are working with the Government of Haiti and UN and NGO partners to address current medical and community needs, bringing in more medical and non-medical supplies, and assisting in increasing public awareness about precautions they can take to protect themselves from the disease.”

UNICEF has distributed medical supplies to three towns (Drouin, Dessalines, and St Michel de l’Attalaye) in Artibonite. Approximately 10,000 sachets of oral rehydration salts are being brought to each affected area. A basic health kit for the town’s health centre in Drouin, and a diarrhoea kit capable of treating 100 patients in St Michel de l’Attalaye have been distributed.

“In close collaboration with our UN and NGO partners, we are actively supporting the Ministry of Health in preventing the disease from spreading further,” said Mubalama. “If the disease spreads to Port-au-Prince we will have a big problem, especially considering the living conditions in the IDP camps.”

UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Health in developing a plan of action in case the disease surfaces in IDP camps in Port-au-Prince. The plan would address the need to isolate cholera cases from other medical cases.

As part of preparations in Port-au-Prince, UNICEF is assisting in setting up three cholera treatment centres. These are in addition to three cholera treatment centres being established in Artibonite.

Cholera is a highly infectious abdominal disease that spreads through contact with contaminated water or food. Symptoms include severe and profuse watery diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pains. If not treated, patients can die from severe dehydration. The disease can be prevented by proper hygiene and sanitation practices, including regular hand washing and the provision and use of safe drinking water.

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About UNICEF
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

For further information, please contact:
UNICEF Country Office, Haiti, Jean Jacques Simon, Chief Communications
Cell: + 509 370 23698
jsimon@unicef.org

Douglas Armour, Communication Specialist
UNICEF Country Office, Haiti
Cell: + 509 3765 7872
darmour@unicef.org

Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York;
Tel + 1 212 326 7426 / Cell + 1 917 582 7546
pmccormick@unicef.org


 

 

 

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