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From market to cholera clinic: Helene survives deadly disease in Haiti

by Tyler Graf | Dec 08, 2016

Haiti, Helen - cholera (11), 2016 (1)

Helene sits outside her home in rural Haiti, where she battled the devastating symptoms of cholera.

Helene’s trip to the market started uneventfully. But as she shopped for produce in the open-air bazaar, she started feeling ill.

First came stomach cramps, then vomiting.  

By the time Helene reached her home, she was too weak to walk. She rested. Days later, she still couldn’t do simple everyday activities. She took some medicine, but it didn’t help. 

Eventually, she went to a dispensary run by Medical Teams International, located a few kilometers from Helene's small commune in rural Haiti. At the dispensary, the medical personnel told her she had cholera and referred her to the closest cholera treatment center.

By the time she arrived there, her condition had worsened. She’d grown even weaker. Health workers put her on an IV and gave her more medicine. They were worried for Helene because she was exhibiting signs of cholera during an outbreak period, when cholera was sweeping through the community.

She wasn’t alone in the treatment center. There were five other patients there, all stricken by the deadly disease that’s killed roughly 10,000 Haitians since its introduction to the country in 2010.

“A lot of people were sick,” Helene said of her time at the treatment center. “At one point, I was a bit scared because I know that when people get cholera, if they don’t take good care of themselves, they might die from it.”

If the clinic hadn’t been there, Helene said, she might have been one of the thousands who have died. But she wasn't.

Because of the early intervention, Helene made a full recovery. While cholera is something to be feared, a disease that has caused tremendous hardship in Haiti, Medical Teams continues to initiate efforts to save lives. This is a way of bringing health and wholeness to rural communities whose populations remain exposed to deadly diseases like cholera.

Cholera is a disease that persists in Haiti, particularly when conditions are wet.

Haiti saw a spike in cholera cases following Hurricane Matthew last month, the result of rising waters and unsanitary conditions. Though thousands of Haitians were vaccinated during the spike and others successfully treated at mobile clinics, the rainy season is coming. It stretches from April through the summer and brings with it annual fears about the spread of cholera.

Your support helps ensure that people like Helene receive the life-saving care they desperately need.

“The clinic is a really good thing,” Helene said. “It helps me and the community.”