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At a glance: Haiti

Podcast #33: Cholera education in Haiti, one year after the earthquake

‘Beyond School Books’ – a podcast series on education in emergencies

© UNICEF Haiti/2010/Ramoneda
Alcema,14, talks about a hygiene session that was held in the camp for displaced people where he lives in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Children in Haiti are still reeling from the impact of the 12 January 2010 earthquake. Here is one in a series of stories on the long road from relief to recovery, a year later.

By Pi James

NEW YORK, USA, 14 January 2011 – The children of Haiti suffered multiple crises in 2010, from the 12 January earthquake to the devastation caused by Hurricane Tomas, and the outbreak of cholera in October – all of which seriously affected their access to education.

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As the UNICEF report on Haiti one year after the earthquake points out, cholera – a bacterial infection spread through contaminated water and food – has claimed more than 2,500 lives and affected more than 100,000 people there.

UNICEF Radio moderator Amy Costello recently spoke about education and cholera prevention with Dr. Ralph Ternier, Director of Community Care and Support with Partners in Health, a non-profit organization that has been providing health care in some of Haiti’s poorest communities for more than 20 years.

Behaviour change

Dr. Ternier said that protection against the spread of cholera was complicated, particularly given the living conditions of many rural Haitians.

“First of all there’s no sanitation,” Dr. Ternier said, adding that many Haitian children do not understand the importance of only using safe water, and of handwashing with soap.

“You can go to some houses where you’re never going to find something to wash your hands,” he said. “If the people are educated and have somewhere to wash their hands, it’s OK – fine, we have the solution of cholera,” he continued. “But … it’s not that simple.”

Dr. Ternier stressed the need for a combination of education to produce behaviour change and immediate access to vaccines and antibiotics for the affected population. “It’s all very complex,” he said. “It’s not as simple as soap and education.”




22 December 2010: UNICEF Radio moderator Amy Costello speaks with Dr. Ralph Ternier, Director of Community Care and Support with Partners in Health, about cholera and education in Haiti a year after the earthquake.
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