Stories from the field
The Carrefour cholera treatment centre passes into the hands of the Haitian Red Cross
"I came to the Red Cross cholera treatment centre as soon as I noticed the first symptoms. My daughter is better now, thanks to the Red Cross and thanks to God."-- Gabrielle
On December 12, 2010, the Canadian Red Cross deployed a field hospital to Carrefour, Haiti to fight the cholera epidemic. On March 31, 2011, after working in the region for almost four months and treating more than 1,500 patients, the Canadian Red Cross team began a gradual handover of responsibility for the centre to the Haitian Red Cross.
"Thatís the real strength of the Red Cross," explains Dave Batement, head of the Canadian Red Cross cholera treatment centre team. "We are training personnel from the Haitian Red Cross and giving them the tools they need to take over when we leave."
The Canadian Red Cross field hospital was initially deployed with the capacity to provide oral rehydration treatment for 300 patients and 120 beds for hospitalization. Four months later, the number of cases has decreased considerably and the number of available beds has been reduced to 12. The centre will soon be transformed into a cholera treatment unit, offering outpatient services only. Cases requiring hospitalization will be transferred to neighbouring clinics, as agreed with Haitiís Ministry of Public Health and Population.
A well-informed community
The significant reduction in the number of cases is due in part to the information and prevention campaign undertaken by the community health team and Haitian Red cross volunteers, who went door-to-door to speak directly with families. Work is ongoing for these teams, which have so far visited more than 6,000 families and distributed more than 48,000 aqua tabs, 27,000 oral rehydration salt sachets and 80,500 bars of soap.
"Prevention is crucial in the fight against cholera. We can go on treating patients, but without prevention, the illness will continue to spread. Thatís why the work of the volunteers is so important," explains Claudia Chavez, Canadian Red Cross delegate for community health.
Material enabling the centre to scale up capacity, if necessary, will be left in warehouses with the Haitian Red Cross to ensure a rapid response should the number of cases increase.