Haiti: Joined actions against further spread of cholera - Malteser International and THW combine their forces
By Petra Ipp-Zavazal 11/30/2010
Bonn/Cologne. Together, the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) in Germany and Malteser International, the relief service of the Order of Malta for worldwide humanitarian aid, take action against the cholera in Haiti. The joined relief measures of both organisations are designed to improve the hygienic standards in the camps in Port-au-Prince and to prevent a further spread of the disease. According to official statements, more than 60,000 people have already been infected. The United Nations (UN) continue to caution against a further spread of cholera.
Since November, the THW and Malteser International have been taking action against the cholera in Port-au-Prince by sending out mobile health units. The hygienic standards, especially in the numerous transitory camps in the capital, are insufficient to stop the highly infectious disease from spreading. Therefore, the mobile health units disinfect sanitation facilities as well as water tanks with chlorine solutions, clean and rehabilitate the waste water systems, and distribute water cans, soaps as well as water treatment tabs. Additionally, the Malteser International teams with supported of the THW sensitise the population with regard to right hygiene behaviour, show educational films - also in the country-specific Creole language – and distribute leaflets. The teams further facilitate an early diagnosis of cholera patients and a quick referral to specialised hospitals.
The joined project which will last till the end of February 2011 is financed by the Federal Foreign Office (Germany). Already since January, immediately after the devastating earthquake, the THW as well as Malteser International have provided humanitarian aid in Haiti. On behalf of the Humanitarian Aid department of the European Commission (ECHO), the THW improves the living conditions in the transitory camps in Port-au-Prince through water supply and construction projects. Additionally, it supports the development of the Haitian agency for civil defence (DPC). At three additional project locations outside of Port-au-Prince, Malteser International will distribute water cans, water treatment tabs, and soap to more than 10,000 families. At these locations, Malteser International also carries out education campaigns and ensures improved diagnosis of cholera and referrals of the patients to specialised hospitals.
The UN warn against a further spreading of cholera which would imply another severe humanitarian catastrophe in Haiti. Already the earthquake in January 2010 had lead to disastrous damages all over the country. Then, in October, the aid agencies’ reconstruction and rehabilitation measures were increasingly hampered by hurricane Tomas and the outbreak of cholera.
Maren Paech, Senior Desk Officer for Haiti, is available for interviews.