Fast action to spruce up supplies in the cholera-torn region of Haiti is need of the hour, as the number of cases of cholera may soon touch 200,000, an expert has warned.
"Cholera is virtually everywhere in the country," said Jon Kim Andrus, deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization.
"We need to plan for enough supplies to treat as many as 400,000 cholera cases occurring over the next 12 months," Andrus said, adding that almost four times the number of cases already seen could surface in the next quarter.
"We need to plan for up to half of those cases occurring over the next three months because of the explosive nature of this cholera epidemic," he told reporters.
Andrus noted that the Haitian health ministry has reported 56,901 total cases of cholera treated in both hospital and as outpatients, with the diarrhea-causing disease now present in eight of Haiti's 10 departments.
The Caribbean nation ravaged by a catastrophic earthquake in January now battles a spiraling cholera epidemic that has killed 1,415 people and required 25,000 more to be hospitalized, local officials have said.
"Since the beginning of the crisis, PAHO has distributed enough supplies to treat 80,000 cases, including oral rehydration salts and intravenous fluids for more serious cases," Andrus said.
"We have more on hand, but in the near future we will need even more supplies, cholera beds, and doctors, nurses, and people to train local doctors how to treat cholera patients."
He also cited the danger of the disease spreading to other countries in the region. Already, cases have popped up in the neighboring Dominican Republic and nearby Florida.
"For many of us, this brings to mind the cholera epidemic that began in Peru in 1991 and spread to more than 16 other countries in the Americas within two years," Andrus said.
"We need more of everything: more training for staff in Haiti, more doctors, more nurses, more treatment centers, more medications, more toilets, more clean water."