PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI (November 5, 2010) – Medical Teams International (MTI) physicians and nurses have been treating thousands of patients suffering from cholera, which has continued to spread through portions of the country. MTI is a major partner with Covenant World Relief, which has provided significant funding to the medical mission organization.
The outbreak has killed more than 440 people and hospitalized more the 6,700 patients, according to the Pan American Health Organization. Cholera is an intestinal infection caused by ingestion of bacteria-contaminated food or water. The infection causes watery diarrhea and vomiting, which can lead to severe dehydration and death within hours if not treated. About 80 percent of cases can be cured by rehydrating the patient, the Pan American Health Organization said.
Medical Teams International has sent emergency shipments of cholera kits to augment the cholera kits already supplied to health facilities in Haiti over the past five months. Teams of volunteers have been working in four hospitals that have been stretched beyond capacity.
“Praise God for our doctors and nurses, but it hasn’t been easy,” writes Ted Steinhauer, Medical Teams International Haiti country director in a recent blog posting. “The first night at St. Nicolas hospital was beyond description. At 8 a.m. we watched in shock as over 20 nurses and doctors covered in contaminated vomit and feces trudged wearily to the bus – all were weeping.”
He added that cholera is “a word now vividly and excruciatingly burned on the walls of my mind and heart.”
International leaders fear that the outbreak will spread even more widely if tropical storm Tomas slams into the island tomorrow as expected. The storm could cause massive flooding.
The government today urged hundreds of thousands of people still living in tents following January’s devastating earthquake to flee to more sturdy shelter. They acknowledged that there are not enough of those shelters, however.
The January 12 earthquake killed 250,000 people and left more than one million people homeless.