The cholera situation in the north of Haiti is "particularly critical", where the infection has spread rapidly over the last two weeks, reveals aid charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders - MSF). MSF says it has treated over 51,000 patients with symptoms of cholera between October 22 and December 5. Over the last seven days alone MSF has treated more than 1,100 people every 24 hours.

Describing official cholera figures as just "the tip of the iceberg", MSF is calling out for further donations. The charity is currently operating 40 treatment facilities across the whole of Haiti, with a capacity of approximately 3,300 beds.

In the northern part of the country MSF is receiving about 380 patients each day, of which approximately 200 daily are being treated in Cap Haitien. 300 patients are hospitalized at MSF's cholera treatment center in Cap Haiten. Over 100 people are being admitted to the Port-de-Paix treatment center in the northwest; this center has just been upgraded and now has 130 beds, MSF reports.

MSF team leader in the north of Haiti, David Schrumpf, said: "We often see only the tip of the iceberg as we know there are people who are dying from cholera in the rural communities. We are trying to reach them by car, motorbike, or sometimes by foot, to install oral rehydration points and treatment units. Our objective is to provide the more remote populations with a better access to medical care but also to let sick people rehydrate on the way to the first health structures." The total number of daily admission is starting to level out, the charity reports. However, the rate of new infections in the capital, Port-au-Prince remains high. MSF has treated 14,000 people in the capital, 1,800 over the last seven days.

Haiti's current cholera epidemic started in Artibonite eight weeks ago. The daily rate of new infections there is starting to drop - out of 21,000 infections so far, 870 were reported over the last week.

MSF emergency coordinator, Alan Lefebvre, said: "In areas newly affected by the disease, the population of areas is really scared. The population fears that a cholera treatment centre will bring the disease to the community. The challenge is to inform, to raise awareness, and to demonstrate that we are there to treat the sick and that this is working." MSF says it has brought over 770 tons of logistical and medical supplies into the country since the epidemic began.

Source: MSF

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