The number of people dying from cholera in Haiti has been on a downward trend or has stabilized in all ten of the country’s departments affected by the outbreak, the United Nations humanitarian office reported, adding that the number of hospitalized people has also been decreasing.
However, it remains unclear whether the epidemic has reached its peak, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in an update. It noted that a peak can only be determined if the majority of affected areas report a decreasing number of new cases over a period of three to four weeks.
The cholera outbreak was first reported in October last year. It led to the setting up of cholera treatment centres and smaller treatments units throughout affected areas, and a call from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the international community to provide immediate massive aid to fight the epidemic.
As of January 16, Haiti’s public health ministry reports 194,095 cumulative cases of cholera and 3,889 deaths, with an overall fatality rate of two per cent nationwide. In November, the UN World Health Organization reported the fatality rate as standing at 2.3 per cent.
In its update, OCHA said the number of daily hospitalizations nationwide is down, from 837 on December 11, to 515 on December 16; and partners, such as Médecins Sans Frontières, are planning to close treatment locations and reduce their presence in some areas due to the decrease in the number of cholera cases being admitted.
OCHA said much effort is now focused on moving medical services to areas where they are most needed, mainly in remote rural areas. A total of 129 physicians and 326 nurses are still needed nationwide to support cholera response activities – a significant decrease from the 2,000 nurses and 350 physicians initially required.
OCHA said that lack of funding, poor access to remote areas and lack of community mobilizers have been identified as the most pressing needs in relation to the cholera outbreak.