Cholera epidemic in Haiti begins to stabilize: Doctors without Borders

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PORT-AU-PRINCE. January 15. KAZINFORM The cholera epidemic in Haiti has begun to show signs of stabilizing, despite the fact it is now present in all the regions of this Caribbean country, the head of a Doctors without Borders mission in Haiti said Friday. Kazinform refers to Xinhua.

"Well the situation right now is very optimistic, it is stabilizing, we see in many parts that the numbers are slowly diminishing, including for example in Port-au-Prince, but we have to be very very careful and continue monitoring the situation," Sylvain Groulx told Xinhua in Petion Ville.

According to him, the situation "is not perfect, but certainly we see that the number (of cases) is diminishing" as now there are not "the high numbers there were a few weeks ago."

Groulx said despite this still there is a big challenge because of the "wide spread" of the disease, which now "is in all the departments in Haiti."

"It is hitting right now, specially very hardly in rural areas, places where it is very difficult to reach because you can only get there by foot, taking 16-17 hours on foot to reach."

The cholera epidemic in Haiti was announced on Oct. 21, 2010 and "at that stage, there was fear, because this is a completely new disease (in Haiti) so it is scary for everyone, but due to the sensitization and public cleaning messages and the training provided we start to see that everyone is overcoming the fear," he said.

When the cholera began in Haiti and as it was a new disease for the Haitians, the people did not know what to do and "at the initial stage there was a big stigmatization, specially in the rural areas, where the level of education is sometimes lower than in some of the urban areas." Groulx said.

"However, I think that we slowly overcame that and I think that right now most of the population are coming to our cholera treatment centers to receive the care very quickly, because they have understood that the more you wait the higher the chances are that you might die of it," he said.

According to Groulx, cholera has a low mortality rate of 2 percent if the patient receives medical treatment on time; otherwise the infected person could die within in hours.

Official figures showed that so far more than 3,700 people have died of cholera in Haiti. Kazinform cites Xinhua. See www.xinhuamet.com for full version

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