UNICEF Positions Emergency Supplies for Tropical Storm as Cholera Outbreak Continues in Haiti

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UNICEF Prepares for the upcoming Trocial Storn

UNICEF staff have been working with our partners around the clock to help address and contain the cholera outbreak

Port-au-Prince, Haiti (Vocus) November 4, 2010 -- UNICEF is rushing to ensure adequate emergency supplies in preparation for a severe tropical storm, as it works with UN and NGO partners to support the Government of Haiti’s response to the recent cholera outbreak.

“UNICEF staff have been working with our partners around the clock to help address and contain the cholera outbreak,” said Ms. Francoise Gruloos-Ackermans, UNICEF Representative in Haiti. “Now, the potential landfall of this tropical storm endangers the work completed to date and poses a new threat of the water-born cholera disease being spread by inland flooding.”

“This latest threat comes as the country is struggling to recover from the devastating earthquake that struck last January,” Ms Gruloos-Ackermans added.

UNICEF is working in close partnership with WHO, WFP and OCHA to coordinate this international response, particularly in light of the fact that in the combination of cholera, a tropical storm, and the aftermath of the January earthquake threaten to create the ideal conditions for an emergency of nation-wide proportions. A priority will be on safeguarding and reducing impacts on children and mothers.

UNICEF is also coordinating with its NGO partners throughout Haiti in responding both to the cholera outbreak and preparing for the forecasted arrival of tropical storm. Coordination with WHO-OPS is underway with the Ministry of Health for the development of the cholera multi-sectoral response plan.

According to information released today by the Haitian Ministry of Health, there have been 442 deaths and 6,742 hospitalizations attributed to cholera in numerous locations throughout the country, suggesting that the disease continues to spread rapidly.

Special emphasis for the cholera response has been on informing communities and families about the preventative actions they can take to protect themselves from cholera. Community mobilizers are sharing health and sanitation-related information with residents as they distribute UNICEF-supplied oral rehydration salts and water purification tablets. Patients and their families being treated at health care facilities are also receiving preventative information.

UNICEF is focusing supply distribution efforts in areas southwest of Port-au-Prince with the distribution of medical, nutrition, and sanitation stocks. Tropical storm contingency supplies are being prepositioned in communities throughout Haiti, including areas not directly affected by the cholera outbreak. These supplies include water purification kits, tarpaulins, oral rehydration salts, jerrycans, water purification tablets, and zinc tablets, which reduce the effects of diarrhea.

UNICEF is also prepositioning additional health, nutrition, water, sanitation, and hygiene supplies, including essential drugs, therapeutic foods, buckets, soap, tarpaulins, water bladders, and chlorine purification powder, for Grande Anse, South and Southeast departments of this Caribbean nation, areas which risk being isolated due to heavy rain.

These emergency supplies are in addition to already prepositioned storm response stocks that have been depleted as a result of the unanticipated outbreak of cholera in the Artibonite region north of the capital.

Pre-positioned stocks, however, may not be sufficient. Urgently needed are additional water, hygiene, and sanitation supplies. UNICEF Haiti is sourcing many of its stocks directly from suppliers worldwide.

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. Working in more than 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health care, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency relief, and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.

UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress: the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from 13 million in 1990 to 8.8 million in 2008. But still, 22,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit http://www.unicefusa.org.

For additional information, please contact:
Lisa Szarkowski, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2643, lszarkowski(at)unicefusa(dot)org

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Lisa Szarkowski
U.S. Fund for Unicef
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