CHICAGO -- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has announced that it has committed $500,000 for the prevention and treatment of cholera in Haiti, as well as continued response to communities displaced by the January 2010 earthquake. The gift is in addition to the $25,000 the church committed last week for similar purposes in Haiti.
The funds will be transferred from the ELCA's Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund to The Lutheran World Federation to support its continuing work in Haiti, said Megan Bradfield, associate director, ELCA International Development and Disaster Response.
According to Haiti's Ministère de la Sante Publique et de la Population (Dept. of Public Health and Population), more than 11,000 people have been admitted to hospitals, and 724 people have died from cholera in Haiti. Cholera is expected to spread throughout Haiti in the coming weeks.
The cholera outbreak is directly related to poor living conditions for more than 1 million people left homeless since the January earthquake. More than 230,000 people died in the quake.
"In Port-au-Prince, 1.4 million people still reside in camps, and within the camps, hygiene, sanitation and clean water are scarce. These 1.4 million people depend entirely on humanitarian aid groups for clean water. Infrastructure is weak and it's very difficult to get medical aid and water to those in critical need," said Bradfield, quoting information providing by Louis Dorvilier, Lutheran World Federation field representative in Haiti.
"The government and its partners are in the process of setting up 10 new cholera treatment centers (for severe cases), each with capacity of 100 to 400 beds, and have strengthened hospitals with triage units," Bradfield said. Eight cholera treatment centers, with a capacity of more than 1,000 beds, are operational in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas, she said. In addition, there are 14 public and private hospitals with 10-50 cholera beds each, Bradfield said.
Many health and humanitarian agencies are working to support communities and control the spread of cholera, but there is a need for additional cholera treatment centers, she said.
"The Lutheran World Federation has requested resources to work (with) and support local partners in their response," Bradfield said.
Bradfield reported that The Lutheran World Federation, supported in part by ELCA funds, has already responded in a number of ways to the cholera outbreak, including:
+ Training of 60 workers in infection control techniques and distribution of hygiene supplies to more than 13,000 beneficiaries in camps and schools
+ Providing support to two partners to help them establish emergency centers to stabilize people affected by cholera
+ Providing financial support toward the work of cholera prevention in the central plateau
+ Instructing staff in Macaya, Leogane and Foret-des-Pins, in south and southwest Haiti, to take "active measures to prevent a cholera outburst in their areas," including distribution of hygiene kits
+ Working with FinnChurchAid to acquire additional water purification tablets and hygiene kits for 100,000 people to be distributed in schools where 20,000 students are now attending classes
The Lutheran World Federation needs funds to acquire additional supplies, Bradfield said. She said the organization is working in partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti and other faith communities to train people in specific areas in infection control techniques and community awareness.
Last week, the ELCA also contributed $50,000 to the Lutheran World Federation for response to Hurricane Tomas. Those funds helped the Lutheran World Federation send two trucks that included food aid, materials for re-roofing homes, and other supplies. The Lutheran World Federation needs financial support to hire more staff to work in camps and schools, for control of cholera and emergency response in Grand’Anse in southwest Haiti, Bradfield added.