Cholera - Little patients regain strenghts at the CTA of Cap Haitien

The story of a cholera outbreak in Leogane

Phénide Ange Beaussejour, Emergency specialist at UNICEF Haiti tells us how a family in Gressier was contaminated by cholera. This story from the field illustrates the whole complexity of fighting cholera in Haiti.

Since March 25th, there are an increase of suspected cholera cases in the Treatment Unit for Acute Diarrhea (CTDA) of Gressier. A total of 32 cases have been registered between Saturday 25th March and the morning of Tuesday 28th March including death in the community.

The majority of patients comes from the area of Fond des Boudins, located in Sainte Etienne in the commune of Léogane. Many patients are members of the same family living in a space called in creole ’’Lakou’’.

The index case [1] is Dieuseul,[2] a 70 year-old man.

He reports that the symptoms started in the night of Friday 24th March. That same day, he participated to a «kombit » (a volunteer peasants’ gathering that help each other doing one or more tasks) with 6 persons from the area. All of them have shared food and bought bread from a street vendor. Four ther persons from that « kombit » were sick within the 24-48 hours.

cholera- The tomb of Marie’s baby.

The tomb of Marie’s baby.

The day Dieuseul was admitted to the hospital, on Saturday 25 March, His daughter, Marie [3] and her six-month old baby also began to present symptoms and were transported the same day to the Gressier CTDA. However, Marie refuses to keep her child at the CTDA. She was afraid the baby might be “infected” there. She returned the baby to her 16-year-old pregnant cousin who lives in the same “lakou”.

While Mary was receiving care at the CTDA, the condition of the child was deteriorating. On Monday morning the cousin takes the baby to the health center in Sainte-Etienne, but the nurse was unable to take care of him because of lack of medical supply. The child died on the way back to home and was buried the same day in a hole dug in Mary’ back yard. The latter hospitalized in Gressier didn’t know her baby was dead.

Today, children and babies continue to die from a preventable disease


Remote areas, peasant working in groups, street vendors selling products of unsound hygiene, people who consume water from an unprotected source, poor health centers.

This sad story reflects the complexity of the fight against cholera in Haiti and shows us that unfortunately today children and babies continue to die from a preventable disease.

In addition to its work with Rapid Response Teams, UNICEF provides support to Mobile Units of the Health Promotion and Environment Protection Division (DPSPE) of the Ministry of Public Health and Population so that key messages are included in awareness sessions.

In the case of Gressier, these messages focus on “funeral practices in case of death due to diarrhea”, “the importance of receiving care in an acute diarrhea treatment center until complete cure” but also on the fact that “CTDAs do not represent a risk to children”.


Phénide Ange Beaussejour,

Emergency Specialist



[1] The index case, primary case, or patient zero is the initial patient in the population of an epidemiological investigation.

[2] The name of the patient has been changed for privacy concerns

[3] The name of the patient has been changed for privacy concerns

This post is also available in: French