WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Red Cross has delivered the first of 5,000 cots to Haiti to support the medical response to the outbreak of cholera in that country.
In response to a request from the government's Ministry of Health, the American Red Cross sent an initial shipment of 2,268 cots from the US that arrived at Port-au-Prince's international airport on Wednesday, October 27. Another shipment of the same size will arrive today, with the balance of cots due to arrive over the weekend. The cots will be delivered to hospitals and clinics treating and preparing to treat cholera victims.
"Recognizing the importance of a rapid response to this health crisis, the American Red Cross has mobilized scores of personnel and urgently needed supplies in recent days," said David Meltzer, senior vice president of International Services at the American Red Cross. "At the request of the Government of Haiti, we are shipping these cots to provide additional capacity to hospitals and clinics that have been overwhelmed with cholera patients. The ability of the Red Cross to source and deliver cots quickly is a testament to our ongoing commitment to Haiti."
As of October 27th, the government had confirmed 303 deaths and 4,722 cases of cholera, virtually all of which occurred in the Artibonite and Central regions north and northwest of Port-au-Prince. Five cases were confirmed in Port-au-Prince, where hundreds of thousands of Haitians left homeless by the January 12th earthquake are living under tarps and tents, but all five were contracted in the Artibonite River valley area. There are suspected cases in other parts of the country.
The cots, which are from a Red Cross warehouse in Atlanta, Georgia, were transported via Miami and on to Port-au-Prince courtesy of FedEx. As a member of the annual Disaster Giving Program of the American Red Cross, FedEx provides financial and shipping assistance to enable the Red Cross to respond quickly to the needs of individuals and families impacted by disaster.
The cots will be distributed under the direction of the Ministry of Health in Port-au-Prince, as well as other regions of the country.
The American Red Cross has been actively involved in a rapid and coordinated response to the cholera outbreak by the global Red Cross network, which began on October 21 as soon as early cases were reported. The response has involved sending urgently needed medical supplies and clean water to the affected areas, providing key personnel to coordinate health and water and sanitation activities, and launching a vast communications effort that has involved sending radio and SMS text messages twice a day to 350,000 cell phone users in Port-au-Prince and another 30,000 in the Artibonite River valley. In addition, the American Red Cross has approximately 200 health promoters working seven days a week, going tent-to-tent in Port-au-Prince in order to teach people about good hygiene practices to prevent the spread of cholera and other diseases.
In addition, the global Red Cross network plans to open one of five cholera treatment centers in the capital. The center will provide additional medical capacity and help to spread of illness by isolating cholera patients.
The American Red Cross currently has 97 trained health promoters working in and around Port-au-Prince, and that number will increase to more than 200 in coming days. The teams of Haitian Red Cross volunteers are going tent-by-tent to talk about cholera prevention, symptoms and treatment. These are supplemented by health promoters working with other members of the Red Cross network.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.
SOURCE American Red Cross