UNICEF Canada CEO in Haiti as UNICEF expands response to cholera outbreak in Haiti with supply distributions to communities and health centres
Port au Prince/Toronto, ON, November 16, 2010 -- UNICEF is mobilizing all its staff and resources in an effort to stem the spread of cholera in Haiti, and warned today that with 50 per cent of the population under 18 years, large numbers of children are affected. UNICEF Canada CEO, Kim Moran, and staff from UNICEF’s Quebec office are in Haiti touring communities, schools and health centres.
"We are working closely with communities and our partners to contain the latest outbreaks of cholera. Our biggest fear is that it will spread through the rural and remote areas, Port au Prince slums and camps, as well as schools and residential care centers across the country where it will be difficult to fight the disease," said Francoise Gruloos-Ackermans, UNICEF Representative in Haiti.
From the beginning, UNICEF has been very conscious about the needs of rural communities and deployed emergency teams in these areas. "We are reinforcing our operation with staff and resources, mobilizing our partners and readjusting our pre-positioning stocks to scale with the emergency and make sure we cover as much as the country as possible", she added. UNICEF’s concern is to reach children living in remote areas and in the overpopulated slums of Port au Prince.
To date, 14,642 cases have been reported with 917 deaths, a fatality rate of 3.8 per cent. Seven out of Haiti's ten departments have now been affected, according to the Ministry of Health according to which the situation in the North is worrisome, especially in Port de Paix.
Since the beginning of the cholera outbreak, UNICEF has been distributing millions of aquatabs for water purification, thousands of bars of soap, and tons of chlorine for the cleaning of water systems in the capital and elsewhere. Hospitals and health centres in Port au Prince have received water and sanitation and health packages including chlorine and portable latrines. UNICEF has assisted the World Health Organization and NGOs in setting up Cholera Treatment Centers in the capital and rural areas. Thousands of children and parents are being reached with hygiene promotion messages including radio awareness campaigns and posters.
UNICEF is working with the government and UN partners, including the World Food Program (WFP), to cover 5,000 schools with hygiene promotion, soap, access to safe water as well as the maintenance and improvement of sanitation. In addition, UNICEF is training teachers on hygiene promotion for 22,000 schools nationwide.