Thursday and Friday were very difficult for our team as many of our local staff working in the Cholera Treatment Centre (CTC) couldn't come to work due to the violence on the streets. In fact, since the week of the election, we anticipated the chaos in the public transport and MSF had already arranged buses to go around different districts of Cite Soleil to pick up our staff to come to work. But these days, even our cars were blocked due to the barricades... we spent whole day calling to all of our staff to know who lives near to the CTC and thus could come without much difficulty. We could just barely managed to have the most minimum number of staff on shift... it turned out to be ok as we did not receive a lot of new cases these 2 days - mostly because of the bad security situation on the road, patients couldn't even reach our CTC... that's worrying.
Photo source: Beatrice LAU
The shoes and clothes should be sprayed with chlorinated water for all people going into and out of the CTC.
This is the first time I work in a cholera project, and I've learnt so many different functions of the project which I have never heard about - there are the "viders" - whose job is to empty the bucket that contained the vomit and the defecation of the patients (there is a hole on the patient's bed where below the hole is the bucket). There are the "sprayers" whose job is of course to spray chlorinated water on the shoes and clothes of all people going into and out of the CTC. They will also make sure that these people wash their hands with the chlorinated water before entering the centre. It is very important for MSF to put in these measures as we do not only treat the disease, but it is also very important to contain and stop the epidemic from spreading. There is also the "croq-mort" (undertaker), which are the people who are responsible for taking away the dead bodies. With the correct treatment in time, only less than 5% of patients will die. But still there are a few cases of decease every day. Bodies of people who died of cholera have to be treated specially - cotton balls soaked in chlorine have to be placed in the nostrils, the throat as well as the anal of the body. This is done in order to prevent contamination or spreading of the cholera virus when the body is being buried.
Today, we heard that there are cholera cases and suspected cholera cases found in Dominican Republic - the country just next to Haiti. It is a worrying sign that the epidemic might be spreading over the border.
P.S. The violent man has been coming to our office every day since I arrived - today he was again very aggressive to our staff. I'm very glad that the Field Coordinator was there to stop him. The Field Coordinator knows all the leaders of the gangs in all the 34 districts of Cite Soleil (it is necessary to have this kind of "networking" if we want to carry out our medical relief - we have to let them know that MSF is here to help their people, and that we are neutral and not affiliated with any of the gangs, nor the government...). The Field Coordinator said he would have to talk to the leader of the violent man so that he will not come again to harass us any more...