|In a matter of weeks, Haiti's cholera epidemic, which has already killed some 7,000 people and sickened more than half a million, will surge—causing thousands of new cases and claiming many lives.|
That's not a guess. It's a predictable outcome: April marks the beginning of Haiti's rainy season. Daily downpours create conditions in which cholera can tear through destitute communities without access to clean water. Flooding, no stranger to Haiti, makes the situation worse. Help us get the word out.
When the rains came last year, the number of cholera cases nearly tripled from 18,908 in April to 50,405 in June. This year could be worse, but it doesn't need to be.
When cholera broke out in Haiti in October 2010, we called for a comprehensive response using all the tools for treatment and prevention available: Aggressive case-finding and treatment (usually simple rehydration will suffice to save lives; antibiotics are needed in severe cases), major investments in water and sanitation systems, education about how to prevent and treat cholera, and oral vaccination.
In the United States, we drink from the tap without worrying about contracting cholera or the many other waterborne diseases that stalk the poor. Haitians deserve the same standard: Clean water and modern sanitation. But building water and sewage treatment systems takes time, and Haiti's cholera epidemic is already the world's largest in recent history. We can't afford to wait. And we need to roll out a safe, effective oral cholera vaccine that would help buy the time necessary to build (or rebuild) much-needed municipal water systems.
Help us tell the world that cholera is coming back in force and that we can fight it.
In a few days, we will launch a program to vaccinate an entire flood-prone rural commune. Our goal is threefold: To protect some of Haiti's most vulnerable people, to prove that vaccination can be effectively integrated into the ongoing response to cholera in Haiti, and to help the Haitian Ministry of Health develop and strengthen an immunization program capable of protecting all Haitians against cholera and other vaccine-preventable diseases for years to come.
We need to get the word out, and you can help. Share the news and encourage your friends and family to help us slow—and someday stop—the spread of cholera in Haiti: