Clinton Hails Cholera Progress in Haiti

By Dialogo
February 01, 2011

Touring a cholera clinic on 30 January, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hailed the news that the wave of cholera that has killed more than 4,000 Haitians since October is receding.

“I want to first of all express my great appreciation and admiration for everyone working to stem and then reverse the cholera epidemic,” Clinton said in baking heat outside the tent-like structure.

She reiterated the US commitment to Haitians’ health needs “and other needs that are present and in many ways exacerbated by the continuing efforts at reconstruction and redevelopment following the earthquake.”

“It’s a good news story to the extent that the numbers are diminishing but it’s by no means over. They are still admitting patients, as they did today,” the chief US diplomat said during her 15-minute tour.

“Thankfully we are better equipped to be able to save lives and limit the fatalities but we have a long way to go, just as we have a long way to go with our work in Haiti,” she said.

Steven Smith, a health official at the US embassy, told Clinton that “we’re seeing a decrease in the number of cholera cases. Even more important, we’re seeing a decrease in the number of fatalities.”

But he said there were still hundreds of new cases a day countrywide.

The number of new patients at the Cholera Treatment Center, managed by US government grantee Partners in Health, has been reduced by half to about 40 per day since the start of the epidemic, a State Department official said.

Five patients have died at the clinic, the official said.

The death toll from Haiti’s cholera epidemic is 4,030, the Haitian health ministry said on 20 January, while the number of cholera cases totaled 209,034 as of the 24th.

The severity of the epidemic has diminished, but the ministry’s figures show that Haitians are still dying from the bacterial infection, which can strike swiftly with intense diarrhea and vomiting leading to dehydration.