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

Fact Sheet
Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator
January 16, 2013


The Challenge

On October 21, 2010, the Haitian Ministry of Health and Population confirmed cases of cholera for the first time in at least a century.


At the request of the Government of Haiti, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)—already helping Haiti to build sustainable health systems to detect and combat the spread of communicable diseases in the aftermath of the devastating January 2010 earthquake—immediately began working with the Haitian Ministry of Health and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to lessen the severity of the outbreak.

The U.S. Government (USG) has provided expertise and more than $95 million during the emergency phase of the cholera response by:

  • Distributing products to purify drinking water, soap for washing hands and household items, and oral rehydration salts to prevent dehydration in people with acute, watery diarrhea.
  • Working side-by-side with the Ministry of Health and other partners to establish a national system for tracking cases of cholera.
  • Supporting staff and commodities for 45 cholera treatment facilities and 117 oral rehydration posts through cooperative agreements with USAID, CDC, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) partners, other non-governmental organizations, and the Ministry of Health.
  • Developing cholera education materials to train more than 6,000 community health workers who are funded to conduct educational activities and outreach on cholera prevention and treatment in communities throughout Haiti.
  • Improving access to clean water in communities by providing support to drill new wells, repair others, and promote safe water practices.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of large-scale distributions of hygiene items in collaboration with Haiti’s National Direction for Potable Water and Sanitation (DINEPA) and the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

As of December 31, 2012, Haiti has reported an estimated 635,980 cases of cholera and an estimated 7,912 deaths. Though deaths from cholera were high in the first few months of the epidemic, Haitian-led, internationally supported efforts have helped to significantly reduce fatality rates.

Challenges Ahead

Access to clean water and availability of sanitation systems are limited in Haiti, and cholera is likely to persist until access to adequate water and sanitation improves. The U.S. Government is committed to strengthening the Haitian healthcare system to contain future outbreaks and treat the Haitian people. In line with the Ministry of Health’s desire to integrate cholera prevention and treatment into overall health programming, the U.S. Government is working more broadly on the prevention and treatment of all causes of diarrheal diseases. To reduce vulnerability to cholera and other diarrheal diseases, we are supporting the Government of Haiti and U.S. Government partners in improving access to treated drinking water at the community and household levels in urban and rural communities. In addition, the U.S. Government, in collaboration with PAHO, UNICEF, and the Governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, helped launch the Coalition on Water and Sanitation for the Elimination of Cholera on the island of Hispaniola. This initiative calls for investments in safe water, sanitation, and hygiene, particularly in Haiti.

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