Erradicating cholera from Hispaniola
Haiti and Dominican Republic join forces to eliminate cholera from Hispaniola
On the 12th and 13th of March, delegations from the Haitian and Dominican Health Ministries and the international cooperation sector met in Port-au-Prince to approve a roadmap for the elimination of cholera from the island of Hispaniola.
The meeting was held as a result of the commitment taken on by their Excellencies, the Presidents of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Dr. Leonel Fernández and Dr. Michel Martelly, on the 11th of January 2012 when the “Call to Action: A Cholera-Free Hispaniola” was launched by both governments, an initiative supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the US Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Specialist teams from the Health Ministries, the National Drinking Water and Sanitation Boards and from the international agencies met on the 12th of March with the aim of drafting the road map in response to the commitment taken on in the “Call to Action” for the elimination of cholera from the island. The results achieved in this meeting include an agreement to set up an inter-institutional team in each country, made up of government, civil society and the private sector representatives and led by the Ministry of Health, and the creation of four sub-groups on the issues of Attention, Water and Sanitation, Hygiene Promotion, and Education and Epidemiological Vigilance.
On Tuesday, 13th of March, the Public Health Ministers of both countries publicly declared their commitment to working jointly to eliminate cholera from the island of Hispaniola in the next ten years, by:
• Improving access and quality of water supplies and sanitation, investing in people as well as in infrastructure.
• Improving hygiene promotion as the best way of prevention in the homes, communities and schools.
• Efficient warnings of outbreaks, rapid response and case management.
Haitian Public Health and Population Minister Dr. Florence Guillaume stressed her commitment to prevention and declared: “We have to move on from the fight against cholera to its eradication”. Dr. Bautista Rojas, Dominican Public Health Minister stated: “We must make all efforts for our territory to be habitable and for our populations to live happily”.
The international cooperation sector, led by PAHO/WHO and UNICEF Representatives and the CDC Directors in both countries, and the Head of Mission of the Cuban Medical Brigades in Haiti, ratified their commitment to providing technical support for the swift implementation of fundraising activities for fulfilling the roadmap.
Over the next few weeks, both countries will be working hard to produce a plan per country and an island-wide plan for eliminating cholera from Hispaniola.
Cholera in Hispaniola
As of 12th February 2012, a total of 524,046 cases and 7,019 deaths with a lethality rate of 1.3% had been recorded in the cholera epidemic in Haiti. Only 3% of municipalities in Haiti were not affected.
In the Dominican Republic a total of 22,301 cases and 386 deaths were reported. 86% of all cases occurred in 30 municipalities.