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UNICEF expands its cholera response in Haiti and launches a massive social mobilization campaign

2010-11-23

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, 24 November 2010 – UNICEF, alongside international NGO partners, is reinforcing its outbreak response by assisting cholera medical structures. In coordination with the Health Ministry and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) UNICEF is scaling up its assistance to Cholera Treatment Centres, Unit Treatment Centres and ORS Points. The fatality rate remains worrisome and children continue to pay a heavy price since they represent over half of the Haitian population.

UNICEF Canada CEO Kim Moran and Nancy Radford of UNICEF Canada’s Quebec office returned just days ago from Haiti where they toured cholera affected areas and witnessed the preparations of UNICEF’s massive mobilization campaign. “This is a critical time in Haiti and children are extremely vulnerable right now because of the cholera epidemic and tensions around the upcoming presidential elections, which have caused some disruptions to humanitarian efforts,” said Kim Moran, CEO, UNICEF Canada.

More than three weeks into the outbreak, a national community and social mobilisation strategy has been finalised with the use of mass media communication such as radio, television and SMS targeting at least 80 per cent of the total population. The strategy is being implemented in partnership with sectoral ministries, volunteers, civil society groups, wireless phone network Voilà and other private sector groups. In alignment with this plan UNICEF has developed a national and community strategy and plan for massive social mobilisation.

UNICEF and partners have also been disseminating prevention messages to 5,000 vulnerable schools representing a total 1.2 million children and 600 Residential Care Centres serving more than 30,000 children. 

“We are actively coordinating, with the government and our main partners, the delivery of emergency supplies along with a social mobilisation strategy” said Francoise Gruloos-Ackermans, UNICEF Representative in Haiti. “One of our teams was delivering messages at Sacré Coeur Church this Sunday in the capital. Our objective is to support more social networks in order to increase our reach in our mobilisation campaign.”

UNICEF is working to support communities where the outbreak has already taken hold, and is also providing supplies, such as soap, water disinfection tablets, and hygiene kits to help prevent the disease from spreading further. Forty medical structures and 74 partners –including MSF- have been assisted by UNICEF. Since the beginning of the cholera epidemic UNICEF has been supplying ongoing procurement of essential lifesaving supplies. The following includes available and sent items:
- 13.8 million aquatabs,
- 2 million ORS sachets,
- 610,000 soap items,
- 7,770 kg of chlorine products,
- 763 tents to set-up Cholera Treatment Centres/Units.

The scope of the epidemic will require a large-scale intervention at the national level, including efforts to promote health-seeking behaviors and sensitize the population on the need to urgently seek care as soon as symptoms occur. More specialized medical staff such as nurses and hygiene workers will be needed urgently in hospitals nationwide. “UNICEF is joining other partners in an urgent call to mobilize nurses with previous cholera treatment experience within and outside the country to assist the present response,” said Gruloos-Ackermans.

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About UNICEF
UNICEF is the world's leading child-focused humanitarian and development agency. Through innovative programs and advocacy work, we save children's lives and secure their rights in virtually every country. Our global reach, unparalleled influence on policymakers, and diverse partnerships make us an instrumental force in shaping a world in which no child dies of a preventable cause. UNICEF is entirely supported by voluntary donations and helps all children, regardless of race, religion or politics. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.