Testimonies of mothers facing cholera
Malnourished children are three times more likely to die from cholera
At a time when much of the country is facing growing food insecurity, acutely malnourished children have weakened immune systems and they are at least three times more likely to die if they contract cholera, further reinforcing the need for urgent action to contain the disease. Since cholera was first reported on October 2, 2022, there have been 22 deaths recorded in health institutions. As of October 13, there are 425 suspected cases, more than half of them in children under 14. Children between the ages of one and four are most at risk.
The acute diarrhea treatment center (CTDA) of Gheskio is in Bicentenaire. It is not far from Martissant, Carrefour Feuille and Cité Soleil, disadvantaged neighborhoods ravaged by the war of armed gangs where poverty and malnutrition are rampant. There, a large room accommodates 74 people suffering from the symptoms of cholera. The majority are women and children.
Here are their testimonies
Roseline Céus, 18, mother of one-year-old twins.
My name is Roseline Céus, I am 18 years old and I live in Cité Plus,
It has already been three days since my child was sick, but I had no money to take him to the hospital or anyone to accompany me there. The child had watery diarrhea. I had to take to the road with my baby. So, a friend of mine saw me and brought me here to the hospital.
When I arrived here, I was disoriented. I did not know where to go. I was roaming around with the child. But when I realized that he was about to die, I asked a doctor for help. He helped me and put the child on serum. The doctors have not told me anything yet, but they are taking care of my child. I see that my boy is suffering because I have nothing to give him. He hasn't eaten since we got here, and I have nothing to give him. Yesterday, I prepared bananas for him, but he didn't eat it. He is a 1-year-old. My daughter has diarrhea too, but her case is not serious.
I fear for my children. I am afraid that they will catch serious illnesses because I have no one to help me. This child was sick and he was already hospitalized here. He was dehydrated. Where I live, the neighbourhood is not good. There are often shootings, and we can't go out. It is difficult to find drinking water. I would like someone to help me with my two children because I have no one to help me.
Lounas Etienne, 43, mother of a sick child
My name is Lounas Etienne, I am 43 years old and I live in Wharf Jérémie.
We've been here since Monday at 2:00 p.m. My boy was vomiting, and he had diarrhoea. I noticed that he had the disease since Monday around 4am. I went with him to the nuns, and they gave him serum and then we came here. When I arrived here, they put him on serum and the doctors gave me oral serum for him.
My son is not well. He no longer eats. He still has diarrhea, but I don’t worry about him. Everything will be fine because he is already in the hands of the doctors.
I would like someone to help me with the medication because I have nothing. My son has no father. I'm the only one fighting to keep him alive.
Edrige Antoine, 31 years old, 7 months pregnant
My name is Edrige Antoine, I am 31 years old, and I live in Cité Plus.
I haven't been feeling well since Wednesday morning. I was vomiting. My neighbors quickly took me to the hospital because I couldn't stand up. They took me straight to the hospital. Here, the doctors inject me with serum because I was in bad condition. Now I feel better.
I am 7 months pregnant, and I am afraid of losing my child.
Where I live, there are sometimes shootings, but I did not encounter any difficulties in coming to the hospital.
In Cité Soleil, where the first cholera case was reported, up to 8,000 children under five are at risk of dying of concurrent malnutrition, wasting in this case, and cholera unless urgent action is taken to contain this threat. Thousands of families grapple with lack of food as the disadvantaged neighbourhood is ravaged by violence and the threat of armed gangs, drastically reducing populations’ access to basic services. The already fragile nutrition situation is further compounded by inflation, soaring food prices, widespread poverty, and low purchasing power as well as the current cholera outbreak, putting the lives of thousands of malnourished children at risk.
“The crisis in Haiti is increasingly a children’s crisis,” said Bruno Maes, UNICEF Representative in Haiti. “One in three of those suffering from cholera is under the age of five. For children who are already weak from a lack of nutritious food, catching cholera, and suffering the effects, including diarrhea and vomiting, is close to a death sentence. They must be identified and treated urgently, and concrete measures must be taken to prevent new cholera cases in the communities.”
UNICEF has made a preliminary appeal for cholera-specific response of US$ 22 million.