By Stan Friedman
HAUTE LIMBE, HAITI (October 26, 2011) – The Ebenezer Clinic, which is partially supported by the Covenant Church of Canada, is treating a rapidly increasing number of cholera patients, reflecting a national trend as the disease spreads following the rainy season.
Over the spring and summer months, the clinic had been treating three or four patients per week, says Janelle Peterson, a member of Faith Covenant Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba, who also is a missionary supported by the Canada conference.
The number of cases multiplied in recent weeks, Peterson says. The clinic currently is treating 60 patients. “The beds are full again,” says Peterson who maintains her own blog.
Peterson assists at the clinic, which is staffed primarily with nurses from Ebenezer as well as nurses provided by the nation’s Ministry of Public Health.
International health officials say the number of infections has at least tripled due to the second rainy season of the year. Because the country has little sanitation infrastructure, the disease is easily spread.
Cholera, caused by bacteria that create severe diarrhea, is contracted by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Victims can die in as little as a day. The disease is easily treated if assistance is sought in time.
Cholera had never existed in Haiti until a year ago, when a peacekeeping battalion from Nepal most likely introduced the disease through poor sanitation.
Although the number of cases hasn’t approached the epidemic of last year, Haiti now has the highest rate of cholera in the world, according to the United Nations special envoy. It will soon become the leading cause of death by infectious disease in the country.
The situation is expected to worsen in the coming months because lack of funding forced the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to withdraw its workers.
The Canada Covenant Church is accepting donations to help the Ebenezer Clinic. Contributors can donate by sending checks to the Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada, P.O. Box 34025, RPO, Fort Richmond, Winnipeg, MB R3T 5T5. Click here to donate online.