HAUT LIMBE, HAITI (November 9, 2010) – Cholera patients are starting to seek treatment at Ebenezer Clinic, which is supported by the Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada and where Covenanter Janelle Peterson is working.
Five patients were kept at the hospital for treatment overnight last week, Peterson, a member of Faith Covenant in Winnipeg, Manitoba, writes in her blog. The clinic still is finishing up construction at the hospital.
“These patients are coming from Limbe, about five kilometers (three miles) away where we believe cholera has infected the river where many people wash clothes, bathe and gather water,” she says.
The new patients are evidence of the expanding epidemic, which already has killed more than 440 people and hospitalized more than 6,700 patients, according to the Pan American Health Organization.
“The two hospitals in Limbe are full of cholera patients, and so people are coming here once they’ve been turned away, or if they do not have the money to pay for treatment,” Peterson says. “We anticipate that the number of patients will only increase in the coming days.”
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.
In Port-au-Prince, about 150 miles (250 km) south of Haute Limbe, Medical Teams International (MTI) physicians and nurses have been treating thousands of cholera victims. MTI is a major partner with Covenant World Relief, which has provided significant funding to the medical mission organization.
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,” wrote 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.”
The government had 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 1 million people homeless.
People seeking to contribute money for the Ebenezer Clinic may direct donations to the Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada. All donations are tax deductible and can be made online – designate the gift to Haiti Clinic and write “cholera” in the comment box. Gifts also can be sent by mail, marked for Haiti cholera relief, to the Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada, P.O. Box 34025, RPO Fort Richmond, Winnipeg, MB R3T 5T5.
Click here to see a video produced earlier this year about the clinic.