Sunday, October 24, 2010


News reports are saying this morning that 220 people have died so far of cholera in Haiti and that there are now cases in Port-au-Prince.

If Haiti is in the news, it's never for anything good. I suppose this is true of all countries, but there's the occasional exception - Chilean miners are rescued, for example, and people around the world watch in wonder and cheer Chile. That doesn't happen to Haiti. Stories about Haiti are all about impoverished and ravaged and poorest nation in the Western hemisphere. In the eyes of the world, Haiti is a country that lurches from one crisis to the next, and honestly, living here these days, that's how it seems to me, too.

Cholera isn't the kind of disease you see on a regular day at the ER. It's a disease of social disruption, a disease of refugee camps, a disease associated with war and famine and natural disasters. This particular outbreak stemmed not from the earthquake, but from flooding of the Artibonite River. Here's a depressing article about that.

Cholera is a horrible way to die. There's no dignity in a death from diarrhea. If people get proper treatment, and fluid replacement, most of them will survive, but those are not at all givens in Haiti right now - or ever. Most people don't get adequate medical treatment, and most people don't have access to clean water. Those things were true before the earthquake.

Oh dear little Haiti, ti Ayiti cheri. Lord, have mercy.

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