Haiti's Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) officially adopted the Alert and Response System set up by PAHO/WHO that facilitates the gathering of information on the cholera outbreak and enables a faster and more efficient response to needs on the ground. The system collects raw data from field epidemiologists, sanitary engineers, logisticians and other sources and promptly investigates and responds to reports about rapid increases in the number of cases (“hot spots”) and deaths, as well as the status of medicines and supplies, security issues and coordination at the local level.
Photo PAHO/WHO Manuel Calvit
Guidelines for the Alert and Response System Field Teams (composed of epidemiologists, sanitary engineers and logisticians) have been produced by PAHO/WHO. The guidelines specify the tasks and responsibilities of the teams at the departmental level such as coordination of health cluster, participation in the inter-cluster meetings and support to the Ministry of Health.
In the Centre department for instance, there is no official alert system. However, the person responsible for epidemiology makes daily calls to the commune to collect the data. A compilation is presented to the partners during their weekly meeting. Mobile phones have been distributed to all epidemiologists working in the communes to improve the reporting of data and alerts.
As part of strengthening the response based on epidemiological data, the Alert and Response System has organized a training session for eight national and international logisticians waiting to be deployed to the field. The training focused on:
- Water, sanitation and hygiene procedures in CTCs, CTUs and surrounding areas;
- Proper disposal of human waste;
- Education and health promotion, focusing on family and friends caring for patients (hand washing and hygiene, food safety and understanding of the disease)
The training emphasized the important role of the trainees in stopping the transmission of the disease. All precautions need to be taken so that CTCs and CTUs don’t become additional sources of cholera transmission.