This family, each member suffering from cholera, is being treated at an AmeriCares partner clinic in Haiti by local healthcare workers.

Health Inequity – Cholera as the Lens

By Elisabeth Stark, AmeriCares intern for Asia/ Eurasia Partnerships
By Elisabeth Stark, AmeriCares intern for Asia/ Eurasia Partnerships

After my first semester in college, I came home to find the biography of Dr. Paul Farmer, Mountains Beyond Mountains, sitting on my desk with a yellow sticky note affixed to the front that read, “E – read this. Love, Mom.” I stacked the book on my bedside table without looking at it, exhausted by a grueling set of exams. A few days later, however, I picked up the book and couldn’t put it down. I have always been interested in medicine, but as I read Dr. Paul Farmer’s account of his efforts to bring health care to “those who need it most,” I was inspired in a whole new way.

This family, each member suffering from cholera, is being treated at an AmeriCares partner clinic in Haiti by local healthcare workers.
This family, each member suffering from cholera, is being treated at an AmeriCares partner clinic in Haiti by local healthcare workers.

Since then, my understanding of health inequity has grown enormously, and with it, my resolve to address it. One of the starkest representations of health inequity is the worldwide death toll from cholera. Cholera is not only preventable with adequate sewage and sanitation systems and general access to clean water, but is also treatable. And it’s inexpensive to treat, at that. All you really need is water. Water that I take for granted every day when I wash my hands, take a shower or fill a drinking glass. Still, [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”AmeriCares” suffix=””]more than 100,000 people die from cholera each year – almost all in developing countries.[/inlinetweet]

At AmeriCares, I’m surrounded by a group of inspiring individuals who have dedicated themselves to addressing some of the world’s most pressing health issues, including cholera mortality. AmeriCares greatest commitment to fighting cholera so far has been in Haiti, a country vulnerable to cholera outbreaks due to limited access to clean water and sanitation. Furthermore, Haiti is prone to disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and rainy season flooding—all of which can exacerbate these vulnerabilities. AmeriCares provides IV fluids, oral rehydration solutions, antibiotics, disinfectants and buckets, among other supplies, to help health workers in Haiti care for patients in critical need during outbreaks. These supplies can, and do every day, make the difference between life and death for cholera patients.

Joenne (paitent's name has been changed), age 7, survived an episode of cholera two years ago because she had access to IV rehydration fluids donated by AmeriCares.
Joenne, age 7, survived an episode of cholera two years ago because she had access to IV rehydration fluids donated by AmeriCares.

One of the Haitian patients AmeriCares has reached is Joenne*, who was only five years old when cholera struck. She suffered from vomiting and diarrhea, and arrived, unresponsive, at our partner clinic. Joenne received donated IV fluids to reduce her dehydration, and in minutes, she was able to move and regained consciousness. Thanks to AmeriCares participation in the fight against cholera in Haiti, our partner clinic was able to quickly restore Joenne’s health and save her life.

It took only one hero, one champion of underserved populations, for me to realize my passion for working towards global health equity. But it is the everyday hero, the health worker in Haiti who saves a child like Joenne or a logistical partner who ensures the timely delivery of AmeriCares donated products, whom I wish to honor in this post. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@AmeriCares” suffix=””]These #HealthcareHeroes are making tangible differences in people’s lives every day.[/inlinetweet]

*Patient’s name has been changed.

One thought on “Health Inequity – Cholera as the Lens”

  1. I feel moved to comment on the two healthcare workers that are the guardian angels with the faith and wisdom to help the ebola victims. My
    heart goes out to the victims and these courageous people who put their
    hard work and good will towards helping others when others let fear of
    their own lives keep them from doing the right thing. This gift of life is given for a short time the best heroes and heroines in this world risk their lives to an what seems like an amazing degree of selflessness.. If we are full of fear where is our faith and hope. Do we care more for ourselves than other and if so why?

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