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Fast Fact on U.S. Government's Work in Haiti: Cholera

Fact Sheet
Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator
January 8, 2011


On October 21, 2010, cholera was confirmed in the Artibonite region of Haiti. The next day, in response to the Government of Haiti’s formal request for assistance, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth H. Merten issued a disaster declaration. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Agency for International Development worked with Haiti’s Ministry of Health and the Pan American Health Organization to set up a coordinated crisis center in Port-au-Prince.

Upon confirmation of the disease, the U.S. Government:

  • Immediately responded with funding for emergency supplies, including blankets, buckets, and cleaning and disinfectant supplies.
  • USAID’s partners began distributing chlorine water purification treatments, soap, educational pamphlets, and oral rehydration salts in cholera-affected areas.
  •  Within a week of the outbreak, 12 cholera treatment facilities were being built to support isolation and treatment of cases and prepare for the potential spread of the disease.
  • By early December, 162 cholera treatment facilities were operating with approximately 5,900 beds for cholera treatment countrywide.

By early January 2011, the U.S. Government provided expertise and more than $41 million, to support cholera prevention and response activities, targeting the needs outlined in the United Nations Cholera Inter-Sector Response Strategy for Haiti.

  • These efforts include support for cholera treatment facilities, improvements to water and sanitation, medical supplies and services, and information campaigns that teach the public about cholera prevention and treatment.
  • Additionally, the U.S. Government and its partners are training medical staff in cholera surveillance and monitoring.

The U.S. Government’s post-earthquake water and sanitation initiatives included installing latrines and wash stations, and pre-positioning non-food relief commodities throughout Haiti.

These efforts, in addition to the overall rapid response to the outbreak, have helped to slow down the severity of the outbreak in Port-au-Prince, where it was initially feared to spread quickly due to the large number of displaced Haitians living in close quarters.

Challenges Ahead

The Government of Haiti anticipates that there will be a significant cholera presence for several years; the outbreak is expected to grow in the coming weeks and months. The United States will continue to support the Government of Haiti to provide the people of Haiti with adequate medical care and prevention measures necessary to reduce the impact of cholera.

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