“When the disease hits, it's life or death”
Moïse is thirty-three years old. He arrived a few hours ago, in a serious condition, at the cholera treatment centre in Thomassique, a small town in the Centre department in Haiti. Immediately rehydrated by drip and orally, his condition has rapidly improved; without set-backs he should recover in three days.
MSF began supporting the treatment centre five weeks ago, when a new major outbreak of cholera was affecting the area and the existing centre was completely overwhelmed by the influx of patients. Without supervision or qualified staff, it was incapable of providing patients with adequate treatment. A team therefore set up a centre for the appropriate care of patients, hired and trained local medical staff responsible for the centre's hygiene protocols and oversaw its operation. MSF is now in the process of withdrawing, handing over to another organisation capable of continuing the emergency NGO’s work over the coming months.
“I come from Bogbanique. The disease started when I was in my garden working. Then it all began suddenly. I didn't know what was happening. I lost consciousness. People came to fetch me and took me to the clinic - the clinic in Bogbanique. I was hooked up to a drip. I remember - I came round. But the medical centre there did not have the drugs to treat me, so they put me on a motorbike and we rode to Thomassique. I passed out again. I don't remember arriving here, but now I’ve come round, I feel better.
My wife came with me and my brother-in-law rode the motorbike. It was a long ride.
I'm a planter. I plant everything - corn, peas, everything - which I sell at the market. I have five children at home - my mother is looking after them at the moment. I managed to put some corn aside, because you never know when you might be hit by disease, what might happen. I’ve just leased a field for cultivation. A moment ago, I was crying thinking about the cost that I can't turn to account because I'm sick. When will I be able to return home to work?
I've seen others struck by cholera. I don't think that I’m worse off than others, but I'm no luckier. When the disease hits, it's life or death. Only God helps people to not become sick, and to return home.”
Since the start of the epidemic in October 2010, there have been 465,000 cases of cholera in Haiti. Of this figure, 6,500 people have died. MSF teams are working and supporting cholera treatment centres and units in Port-au-Prince and in the provinces: Martissant, Carrefour, Delmas, Choscal, Drouillard, and in the Ouest, Nord, Nord-Ouest, Artibonite and Centre departments. Since the start of the epidemic, MSF has treated more than 160,000 patients for cholera.