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Haiti earthquake five years on

Monday 12 January 2015

On 12 January 2010 Haiti was struck by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that affected an estimated three million people. 

Five years on, although the catastrophic physical damage to housing, roads and public buildings wrought by the Haitian earthquake is still visible, the psychological legacy that many young earthquake survivors are still struggling to live with is less easy to see with the naked eye.

Many children have limited access to quality health care and the cholera outbreak, since 2010, has added to the already fragile health system of the country. According to the Haitian Ministry of Health from 2010, at the height of the cholera outbreak, through to November 2014, there has been an estimated 706, 089 suspected cases and 8,092 deaths. The first case of cholera was detected in the area of Marchand-Dessalines in Haiti where Save the Children works. Save the Children has been at the forefront of controlling, preventing and responding to cholera outbreaks. 

Elinaud is 28 years old and survived Cholera thanks to timely support by Save the Children's trained health workers. Not only did he receive a cholera kit but also received training in how to prevent it in the future. He says, "Before we had the [Save the Children] centre, when people got cholera...there was nowhere to go so it used to be a big problem for the community. If it wasn’t for the centre there would be nowhere to go..."

It was in Marchand-Dessalines where the first case of cholera was detected in 2010 and Save the Children has been responding by setting up cholera treatment units in vulnerable areas as well as ramping up hygiene promotion and sensitisation activities that are necessary to reduce the rate of transmission. Health workers like Marie Gerda Campion (second from left, in the picture) are at the forefront of these activities and helping bring the change in healthcare practices.

In 2014, Save the Children trained 239 health workers on case management and preventive measures to control cholera; reached 17,716 people with health education on the importance on washing hands; 4,008 people with education sessions on the importance of potable water; 4,052 people with education sessions on proper Waste Management; and 480 people on the preparation of oral rehydration salts.

Haiti continues to host the largest cholera epidemic in the western hemisphere. Save the Children is doing a lot to rebuild the health system but there is still a lot to be still done to bring it completely back on its feet. 

Read Save the Children's Haiti 5 years on: results and lessons learnt report.