First Person: Saving Lives and Preventing the Spread of Cholera in Haiti

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  • UN news

A community health worker in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince has described how she goes door-to-door to raise awareness about cholera prevention. The deadly but treatable disease is spreading across the country and according to the latest government figures released on November 16, about 8,100 people have been hospitalized and more than 170 have died. Esterline Dumezil was trained by the Department of Health and Population and by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/). “I have been working in the municipality of Cité Soleil in Port-au-Prince since 2014, so already eight years. The situation has deteriorated over time, which means that life is very difficult for the people living here. They talk to me about their health problems, but they are also concerned about the economic and security situation. They are very afraid of the return of cholera. My job is to walk and raise awareness in the neighborhood. I provide a lot of public health information and now that cholera has resurfaced, I go door to door visiting families in their homes. I educate people about the importance of using treated water for drinking, cooking at home, washing hands, and other measures they can take to prevent the disease from spreading further. Local people have many questions, they also want to tell me about their concerns and problems. I reassure them by reminding them that cholera is not a deadly disease and is treatable. If the basic rules of hygiene are observed, one can fight the disease. © PAHO/WHO Esterline Dumezil has been working as a community health worker in Cité Soleil since 2014. If I find someone with diarrhea, however severe, I refer them to one of the two community hospitals equipped to receive cholera patients; I know they will be well taken care of. It is very important for me to count suspected cases and record the information that local people share with me. I am passing this information on to my superiors at the Department of Health who are helping our epidemiologists better understand how cholera is affecting people across the country. Helping the most vulnerable We are still on the ground despite the difficult current situation in the country. Community health workers don’t sit still, we are trained to help the most vulnerable people. It is a duty and a source of pride for me to be a part of this effort. Personally, I like to think that everyone can contribute to improving life in our communities. That’s why I decided to become a health professional because I enjoy helping people and being part of change. It is also a very important job that can save lives. © PAHO PAHO employees train community health workers to identify and prevent cholera. Meeting and helping people, that’s what makes me happiest in this job. I like to go to their houses and feel comfortable in the neighborhood, despite the insecurity caused by gangs, as people know and trust me. I have never regretted dedicating my life to this work. I like meeting people at home and that’s when I’m happiest.” The UN Cholera Response to Haiti: A range of UN agencies, including IOM, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF and WFP, as well as the UN Humanitarian Air Service, UNHAS, also support the UN’s cholera response. The community health workers, known by the French acronym ASCPs, play a central role in the Ministry of Health’s PAHO/WHO-supported Community Health Strategy. With deep knowledge of and access to the communities they serve, they have been at the forefront of an integrated response to cholera, especially in hard-to-reach areas such as Cite Soleil. To date, 300 have been trained and deployed on site to conduct risk communications and community engagement activities.

A community health worker in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince has described how she goes door-to-door to raise awareness about cholera prevention. The deadly but treatable disease is spreading across the country and according to the latest government figures released on November 16, about 8,100 people have been hospitalized and more than 170 have died. Esterline Dumezil was trained by the Department of Health and Population and by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO). “I have been working in the municipality of Cité Soleil in Port-au-Prince since 2014, so already eight years. The situation has deteriorated over time, which means that life is very difficult for the people living here. They talk to me about their health problems, but they are also concerned about the economic and security situation. They are very afraid of the return of cholera. My job is to walk and raise awareness in the neighborhood. I provide a lot of public health information and now that cholera has resurfaced, I go door to door visiting families in their homes. I educate people about the importance of using treated water for drinking, cooking at home, washing hands, and other measures they can take to prevent the disease from spreading further. Local people have many questions, they also want to tell me about their concerns and problems. I reassure them by reminding them that cholera is not a deadly disease and is treatable. If the basic rules of hygiene are observed, one can fight the disease. © PAHO/WHO Esterline Dumezil has been working as a community health worker in Cité Soleil since 2014. If I find someone with diarrhea, however severe, I refer them to one of the two community hospitals equipped to receive cholera patients; I know they will be well taken care of. It is very important for me to count suspected cases and record the information that local people share with me. I am passing this information on to my superiors at the Department of Health who are helping our epidemiologists better understand how cholera is affecting people across the country. Helping the most vulnerable We are still on the ground despite the difficult current situation in the country. Community health workers don’t sit still, we are trained to help the most vulnerable people. It is a duty and a source of pride for me to be a part of this effort. Personally, I like to think that everyone can contribute to improving life in our communities. That’s why I decided to become a health professional because I enjoy helping people and being part of change. It is also a very important job that can save lives. © PAHO PAHO employees train community health workers to identify and prevent cholera. Meeting and helping people, that’s what makes me happiest in this job. I like to go to their houses and feel comfortable in the neighborhood, despite the insecurity caused by gangs, as people know and trust me. I have never regretted dedicating my life to this work. I like meeting people at home and that’s when I’m happiest.” The UN Cholera Response to Haiti: A range of UN agencies, including IOM, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF and WFP, as well as the UN Humanitarian Air Service, UNHAS, also support the UN’s cholera response. The community health workers, known by the French acronym ASCPs, play a central role in the Ministry of Health’s PAHO/WHO-supported Community Health Strategy. With deep knowledge of and access to the communities they serve, they have been at the forefront of an integrated response to cholera, especially in hard-to-reach areas such as Cite Soleil. To date, 300 have been trained and deployed on site to conduct risk communications and community engagement activities.

© UN News (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: UN News



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