MSF scales up cholera operations in northern Haiti

“I was admitted to the hospital because of diarrhea and vomiting," explained Joséphine, a woman in her fifties, as she tries to sit up in her bed in the hospital of Gros Morne, not far from the city of Gonaïves. “When I first arrived, I could not talk or stay upright. Now, I feel better.” In this Ministry of Health facility, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams provide support and expertise in terms of medical care and adoption of sanitation and hygiene measures.

This collaboration has proved to be effective. The management of cholera is indeed a new experience for the hospital staff, now mobilized in this facility consisting of a simple building and a courtyard under the shadow of trees. “I’m afraid that my seven children will catch the disease. And I can no longer tend to my fields,” said Joséphine as she spoke to another sick woman in the adjacent bed.

Both women are from a neighborhood known as “Château”.   Members of this community have to walk for several hours to reach the hospital. Because of their financial difficulties, some residents cannot afford to pay for transportation in the event of an emergency.

“I had to pay the taxi moto 150 gourdes to get here. It took other patients a half-day to be transported here, lying on their bed,” she added.  Many people in Haiti lack the means to reach medical facilities and so access to care remains limited. In districts adjacent to the Gros Morne Hospital, MSF is providing sanitation assistance to health facilities. As screening continues in the north, teams are responding to the epidemic with medical assistance and continuing their work to promote hygiene measures.

To bolster health clinics in some of the more outlying areas in the north and center of the country - in places such as Gros Morne - MSF is supplying IV solution, oral rehydration salts, IV sets and hygiene materials. Supplies have also been provided to the hospital in the town of Port de Paix in the north of the country. MSF is preparing cholera treatment centers in Gonaives and Bassin Bleu.