A major milestone in Haiti has been overshadowed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. No new cases of cholera have been confirmed in the country for 15 months. Since 2010, the cholera epidemic in Haiti has resulted in 813,252 suspected cases, including 9,611 deaths, according to the World Health Organization(1). The last confirmed case of cholera was reported in the Artibonite Department during the last week of January 2019(2).
Thanks to the Pan American Health Organization and other partner agencies, stopping the cholera epidemic in Haiti was achieved by enhancing disease surveillance to detect cholera cases early on, rapid response to localized outbreaks, implementation of rapid diagnosis initiatives, and treatment of cases with adequate rehydration(2,3).
According to Paul Christian Namphy, coordinator for Dinepa, Haiti’s Water and Sanitation Authority, Haiti is “the pioneer” of this novel approach to combating cholera. “Now they’re looking at Yemen, South Sudan, and eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, to use the lessons that were learned here and tailor that to those countries”.
To prevent the transmission of cholera as well as other waterborne diseases in Haiti in the long-term, improved access to clean water and sanitation for all Haitian people is key. Despite advances in the country, 34.5% of the population lack access to basic drinking water services, and 65.3% of the population have limited to no access to basic sanitation services(4).
Looking forward to officially declaring cholera elimination in Haiti, the country must maintain an effective surveillance system able to detect and confirm cases and remain cholera-free for at least three consecutive years(5).
1. WHO. Cholera: The Weekly Epidemiological Record [Internet]. Annual cholera cases and deaths per country. Available from: https://www.who.int/wer/en/
2. PAHO/WHO. Haiti reaches one-year free of Cholera [Internet]. 2020. Available from: https://www.paho.org/hq/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=15684:haiti-reaches-one-year-free-of-cholera&Itemid=1926&lang=en
3. Rebaudet S, Bulit G, Gaudart J, Michel E, Gazin P, Evers C, et al. The case-area targeted rapid response strategy to control cholera in Haiti: a four-year implementation study. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2019;13(4):e0007263.
4. WHO, UNICEF. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (JMP) [Internet]. Household WASH data, per country. 2019 [cited 2019 Nov 27]. Available from: https://washdata.org/data/household#!/
5. Global Task Force on Cholera Control. Ending Cholera. A Global Roadmap to 2030. World Health Organization (WHO); 2017 Oct.