US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her tour to a cholera clinic on Sunday hailed the news that the wave of cholera is receding.
"I want to first of all express my great appreciation and admiration for everyone working to stem and then reverse the cholera epidemic," Clinton said in baking heat outside the tent-like structure.
AdvertisementShe reiterated the US commitment to Haitians' health needs "and other needs that are present and in many ways exacerbated by the continuing efforts at reconstruction and redevelopment following the earthquake."
Only five percent of Haiti has been rebuilt since the January 12, 2010 quake struck, killing more than 220,000 people and leaving 1.3 million people homeless.
"It's a good news story to the extent that the numbers are diminishing but it's by no means over. They are still admitting patients, as they did today," the chief US diplomat said during her 15-minute tour.
"Thankfully we are better equipped to be able to save lives and limit the fatalities but we have a long way to go, just as we have a long way to go with our work in Haiti," she said.
Clinton entered a severe-cases ward where men, women and children lay on cots, intravenous drips attached to their arms. The ward, made of wood and tarpaulin, was quiet except for a child crying.
Like others in her entourage, Clinton entered the clinic after standing momentarily with her shoes in a basin of shallow bleached water and then washing her hands under a spigot of chlorinated water.
Steven Smith, a health official at the US embassy, told Clinton that "we're seeing a decrease in the number of cholera cases. Even more important, we're seeing a decrease in the number of fatalities."
But he said there were still hundreds of new cases a day countrywide.
The number of new patients at the Cholera Treatment Center, managed by US government grantee Partners in Health, has been reduced by half to about 40 per day since the start of the epidemic, a State Department official said.
Five patients have died at the clinic, the official said.
The death toll from Haiti's cholera epidemic is 4,030, the Haitian health ministry said Thursday, while the number of cholera cases totaled 209,034 as of January 24.
The severity of the epidemic has diminished, but the ministry's figures show that Haitians are still dying from the bacterial infection, which can strike swiftly with intense diarrhea and vomiting leading to dehydration.