This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Haiti Faces Yet Another "Plague" of Cholera

It isn't easy being the poorest country in the western hemisphere even on a good day, but Haiti has had some really bad days over the past several years. First came the disastrous earthquake in 2010, from which the country has never really recovered, and then came cholera in its wake, as a I noted at the time:
Although it has not yet been confirmed, there is suspicion that cholera was brought to Haiti by Nepalese peace-keepers working with the United Nations. All cases have occurred downstream from the camp in which they are based and it is believed that human excrement (the mode of transmission) has been dumped in the nearby river.
Unbelievably, it took six years--until August of this year--for the UN to admit that it had anything to do with the cholera in Haiti, and it has not yet done much to help the situation of victims and their families. And, of course, that was all before this past week's passage of Hurricane Matthews through the Caribbean. CNN reported that:
Haiti's leader says Hurricane Matthew's assault has accelerated the already existing cholera epidemic and undermined the strides made in fighting the disease. "A lot of effort has been made to avoid the spread of this epidemic," said Interim President Jocelerme Privert, "but the hurricane has accelerated it."
Thirteen people have died from cholera since Matthew hit Haiti, he said. This tragedy -- which has killed more than 370 people -- comes after a devastating cholera outbreak in 2010. The United Nations says it has been involved in trying to eradicate the disease in Haiti. 
Cholera, which is spread through water or food contaminated with Vibrio cholerae bacteria, can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting, which leads to extreme dehydration. It can swiftly result in outbreaks, and patients who are not treated quickly can die within hours. 
Haiti has one of the highest rates of cholera in the world, with almost 10,000 people dead from the disease since 2010 and more than 27,000 suspected cases have been reported this year -- an estimated 1 in 3 of them children, UNICEF said.
Keep in mind that there were no known cholera cases in Haiti before the UN peacekeepers came in after the 2010 earthquake. So, the fact that it now has "one of the highest rates of cholera in the world" is a tragedy on top of a tragedy.

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