Artibonite

Reeling from Shock

Estama Murat, Director of the Drouin Methodist School, cautiously hopes to reopen: “This obviously will not come easy," he says, "because we have many children still sick and other pupils have fled the village.”

Drouin is in Grande Saline, where the cholera virus was first discovered in the Artibonite department last week. The population of 17,000 is still in shock. Many of them left for the chief town of Gonaives, Mr. Murat explains, or toward Saint-Marc in the Lower Artibonite region.

The Santé pour le Développement et la Stabilité d’Haíïti (SDSH), led by MSH, funded by USAID, has been supporting the Drouin health center for the past three years, to deliver a package of primary health services in maternal and child health and family planning. Through the USAID-funded project, MSH also supports a network of community health workers and traditional birth attendants for community outreach activities, ensuring that the services reach the people in need.

A volunteer nun tending to a chld at the Drouin health centerOn Tuesday and Wednesday, Dr. Serge Conille, the HIV/AIDS technical Advisor of the USAID-funded SDSH project led by Management Sciences for Health, and designated lead of the project's emergency cholera task force, and I visited project-supported health facilities in the epicenter of the epidemic in the lower Artibonite Department (Province).

We drove into the cholera zone over a dirt track through a flat plain of fields, green, but neglected. The road ran parallel to what appeared to be a wide canal, the dikes on either side uneven and crumbling. Later, I found out that this was the Artibonite river, source of the epidemic. It was constrained and channeled some 25 years ago as part of a “whole valley development plan” which included promotion of rice cultivation. The rice is largely gone and the dikes are frequently overrun by the river which floods the surrounding countryside isolating some villages, sometimes for long periods of time.

The Santé pour le Développement et la Stabilité d’Haíïti (SDSH) project Chief of Party, Agma Prins, and Dr. Serge Conille are in the Artibonite department to support the MSH response to the cholera outbreak. They continue to coordinate with the Ministry of Health and other international and local partners. MSH is working with Pure Water for the World to educate communities about hygiene and provide access to clean water through bio-sand filters.

Additionally, MSH Sr. Technical Advisor, Dr. Georges Dubuche, is working with Direct Relief International to coordinate an air freight shipment of supplies including IV fluids. IV catheters, oral rehydration salt tablets, Pedialyte solution, tetracycline or doxycycline, exam gloves, soap, and IV equipment stands.

The MSH/SDSH project is funded by the USAID.

The Management Sciences for Health Haiti staff continues to work tirelessly alongside local partners to mitigate the cholera outbreak. A sample of today’s work is outlined below.

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