Video: CDC Responds to Cholera in Haiti
An outbreak of cholera was confirmed in Haiti on October 21, 2010. Learn from CDC's Dr. Jordan Tappero about how CDC is working closely with other U.S. government agencies and international partners in support of the Haitian government's response to the cholera outbreak in that country.
Well, CDC is working in the cholera epidemic about five main areas, and the first two are the most pressing. We are working to decrease deaths in health facilities. We are working to decrease deaths in communities. We are also working to establish oral-rehydration-solution distribution points throughout the country so that communities remain healthier when they experience cholera. We are working on monitoring the spread of the epidemic so we can stay ahead of where it's going and know where we need to focus our future attentions. And lastly, what we're very, very good at at CDC is epidemiologic and laboratory science. Cholera is a diarrheal disease that is unlike any other. The amount of fluid lost with diarrhea is about 1 liter an hour, and people can die literally in a handful of hours. So we at CDC developed a training-of-trainers program for healthcare workers. It's an intensive two-day training course that really created a cadre of experts that could go out into the tent apartments across the country, train other healthcare providers on what to expect that have never seen cholera before, and improve the capacity to provide good care throughout the nation. With those community health workers, we also do training that makes sure that they understand the messaging about staying hydrated, how to get oral rehydration solution into every home, and that they can tell their communities where to get O.R.S. sachets, or oral-rehydration-solution sachets, into every household. The Ministry of Public Health has really been challenged after the earthquake. They lost a number of senior staff to the earthquake. They also had many personal family members that died in the earthquake. Many of them lost their home, and yet, they come to work every day. Those people are going to be the future of an improved public-health system. And I'm very passionate that a strong public-health department makes an improvement in people's lives. CDC staff have also been traveling to Haiti, many on repeat rotations. CDC is committed to working very closely in partnership with the Ministry of Public Health in Haiti, and we think, through that partnership and all of the international organizations that are also working together to support the Haitian government, that will make a difference.