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UNICEF expands its cholera response in Haiti by shifting its medical strategy and launching a massive social mobilisation campaign

© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-2457/Marco Dormino
Children read a cholera prevention poster in Cite L'Eternel, a poor neighborhood of Port au Prince.

Port-au-Prince, November 22, 2010 – UNICEF, alongside international NGO partners, is reinforcing its outbreak response by assisting cholera medical structures. In coordination with the Health Ministry and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) the United Nations Children Agency is scaling up its assistance to Cholera Treatment Centres, Unit Treatment Centres and Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) Points. The fatality rate remains worrisome and children continue to pay a heavy price since they represent over half of the Haitian population. 


More than three weeks into the outbreak, a national community and social mobilisation strategy has been finalised with the use of mass media communication such as radio, television and SMS targeting at least 80% of the total population. The strategy is being implemented in partnership with sectoral ministries, volunteers, civil society groups, wireless phone network Voilà and other private sector groups. In alignment with this plan UNICEF has developed a national and community strategy and plan for massive social mobilisation.


UNICEF and partners have also been disseminating prevention messages to 5,000 vulnerable schools representing a total 1.2 million children and 600 Residential Care Centres serving more than 30,000 children. 


“We are actively coordinating, with the government and our main partners, the delivery of emergency supplies along with a social mobilisation strategy” said Francoise Gruloos-Ackermans, UNICEF Representative in Haiti. “One of our teams was delivering messages at Sacré Coeur Church this Sunday in the capital. Our objective is to support more social networks in order to increase our reach in our mobilisation campaign.”


UNICEF is working to support communities where the outbreak has already taken hold, and is also providing supplies, such as soap, water disinfection tablets, and hygiene kits to help prevent the disease from spreading further. Forty medical structures and 74 partners –including Doctors without Borders (MSF)- have been assisted by UNICEF. Since the beginning of the cholera epidemic UNICEF has been supplying ongoing procurement of essential life saving supplies. The following includes available and sent items:


- 13.8 millions aquatabs,

- 2 million ORS sachets,

- 610,000 soap items,

- 7,770 kg of HTH,

- 763 tents to set-up Cholera Treatment Centres/Units.


All UNICEF staff members are mobilized for the cholera response. Among them, 32 staff are in the field, with a new wave of deployments scheduled for the next ten days with 51 multi-sectoral staff in eleven locations across Haiti’s ten departments.


The scope of the epidemic will require a large-scale intervention at the national level, including efforts to promote health-seeking behaviors and sensitize the population on the need to urgently seek care as soon as symptoms occur. More specialized medical staff such as nurses and hygiene workers will be needed urgently in hospitals nationwide. “UNICEF is joining other partners in an urgent call to mobilize nurses with previous cholera treatment experience within and outside the country to assist the present response,” said Gruloos-Ackermans.


For more information:

Jean Jacques Simon, jsimon@unicef.org, UNICEF Haiti, Cell: + 509-3702 3698

Tamar Hahn, thahn@unicef.org, UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean, Tel: (507)301-7485





UNICEF is on the ground in over 155 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.



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