After over three years without a single cholera case in Haiti, the Ministry of Public Health and Population has reported two confirmed cases of cholera and several suspected cases in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area on October 2, 2022. The cholera outbreak has erupted against a backdrop of a complex humanitarian crisis with major socio-political unrest, which significantly challenges the outbreak response.
After over three years without a single cholera case in Haiti, on October 2, 2022, the Ministry of Public Health and Population has reported two confirmed cases of cholera in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area (in the communes of Cité Soleil and Port-au-Prince) and several suspected cases across Ouest Department (1). The last cholera epidemic in Haiti caused approximately 820,000 cases and nearly 10,000 deaths between 2010 and 2019 (2). The last confirmed cholera case in the country was reported in February 2019 (2).
The new cholera outbreak comes on the heels of a complex humanitarian crisis, with major socio-political unrest and gang-related violence since September 12th, which significantly challenges the outbreak response (3). A gang blockade at the Varreux fuel terminal in Port-au-Prince, the country’s main fuel terminal, has led to severe fuel shortages. As a result, fuel prices have skyrocketed in the country; for example, a gallon of gasoline is selling for the equivalent of $48 USD in the city of Les Cayes, as of October 11th (4).
These fuel shortages are hindering humanitarian assistance as well as the provision of basic services, such as safe drinking water and healthcare (5), which is essential to control the cholera outbreak. Indeed, the National Directorate of Drinking Water and Sanitation, the country’s main water producer, has announced that operations are interrupted due to the lack of fuel (6). Many hospitals struggle to provide regular services due to fuel shortages, limited staff mobility, insecurity and looting (6,7).
As of October 13, 2022, the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population has reported 55 confirmed cases, 655 suspected cases and 36 deaths. The most affected age group is 1- to 4-year-olds, followed by 5- to 9-year-olds. In addition to these cases, the Ministry of Public Health and Population has also identified an outbreak in the Civil Prison of Port-au-Prince with at least 12 confirmed cholera cases, 271 suspected cases and 14 deaths. The outbreak is largely concentrated in Ouest Department, although cases have also been identified in Centre Department. However, due to the complex humanitarian crisis, epidemiological surveillance could also be affected and the number of reported cases is likely underestimated (8).
The United Nations has called for an immediate humanitarian corridor to enable fuel to be released to address the urgent needs of the population and respond to the outbreak (9).
1. OCHA. Latin America & The Caribbean Weekly Situation Update (26 September - 2 October 2022) as of 3 October [Internet]. 2022 Oct. Available from: https://reliefweb.int/report/cuba/latin-america-caribbean-weekly-situation-update-26-september-2-october-2022-3-october
2. World Health Organization. Cholera case and death numbers by country [Internet]. The Weekly Epidemiological Record. Available from: https://www.who.int/wer/en/
3. ACAPS. Crisis In Sight Weekly Picks, 5 October 2022 [Internet]. 2022 Oct. Available from: https://reliefweb.int/report/haiti/crisisinsight-weekly-picks-5-october-2022
4. OCHA. Haiti: Humanitarian situation and cholera – Flash Update # 3 (As 11 October 2022) [Internet]. 2022 Oct. Available from: https://reliefweb.int/report/haiti/haiti-humanitarian-situation-and-cholera-flash-update-3-11-october-2022
5. UNICEF. UNICEF Haiti Cholera Humanitarian Situation Report No. 1 - Reporting Period: 2 - 6 October 2022 [Internet]. 2022 Oct. Available from: https://reliefweb.int/report/haiti/unicef-haiti-cholera-humanitarian-situation-report-no-1-reporting-period-2-6-october-2022
6. ECHO. Haiti – Cholera outbreak (DG ECHO, DG ECHO Partners, Ministry of Health, WHO/PAHO, MSF, NGOs, Media) (ECHO Daily Flash of 4 October 2022) [Internet]. 2022 Oct. Available from: https://reliefweb.int/report/haiti/haiti-cholera-outbreak-dg-echo-dg-echo-partners-ministry-health-whopaho-msf-ngos-media-echo-daily-flash-4-october-2022
7. UNICEF. Amidst insecurity in Haiti, new cholera upsurge puts 1.2 million children at risk [Internet]. 2022 Oct. Available from: https://reliefweb.int/report/haiti/amidst-insecurity-haiti-new-cholera-upsurge-puts-12-million-children-risk
8. PAHO. Epidemiological Update: Resurgence of cholera in Haiti - 14 October 2022 [Internet]. 2022 Oct. Available from: https://reliefweb.int/report/haiti/epidemiological-update-resurgence-cholera-haiti-14-october-2022
9. UN RC/HC Haiti. The UN and its partners in Haiti call for the creation of a humanitarian corridor [Internet]. Oct 5, 2022; Available from: https://reliefweb.int/report/haiti/un-and-its-partners-haiti-call-creation-humanitarian-corridor