Thursday, 3 November 2016

Rise in maternal deaths likely in Haiti, and UN expert speaks out on cholera

Midwife tells of delivering babies by torchlight in flood waters, and fresh threat of cholera as row continues over 2011 outbreak

People carry a body at the entrance of a hospital after Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti.
People carry a body at the entrance of a hospital after Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti. The storm killed more than 500 people and caused widespread devastation. Photograph: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, there are fears of a huge rise in maternal deaths in Haiti. Karen McVeigh speaks to a midwife at St Antoine hospital in Jérémie, Grand’Anse – one of the country’s worst-hit towns – who tells of delivering babies by torchlight as she stood knee-deep in water, while the hurricane ripped through the south-west tip of the country.
The widespread devastation has also triggered fears of a fresh cholera outbreak; this comes at a time when the UN’s human rights special rapporteur has spoken out against the organisation’s actions over the epidemic that followed Haiti’s 2010 earthquake. As Ben Quinn reports, in a scathing evaluation at the UN general assembly, Philip Alston condemned as “a disgrace” the United Nations’ refusal to accept responsibility for the devastating cluster of cases that claimed more than 9,000 lives, after the deadly bacterium was brought into the country by peacekeepers relocated from Nepal.
- the Guardian

Teams from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) are seeing deteriorating health conditions among people in the heavily hurricane-affected departments of Sud, Grand’Anse and Nippes.

There are signs of food scarcity: most of the crops are destroyed or flooded and the vast majority of the livestock is missing or dead. In Sud and Grand'Anse, MSF has started to monitor the nutritional status of children under five years old in its mobile clinics in order to provide treatment with ready-to-use therapeutic food if necessary.

As the cholera epidemic is unpredictable under the current conditions, it is crucial to monitor new cases, provide sufficient access to treatment centers and provide safe drinking water. While the number of patients in MSF's cholera treatment center (CTC) in Port-à-Piment decreased to six on Oct. 25, the neighboring town of Chardonnières reported 40 suspected cases.

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