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Text Messages to Fight Cholera

The government of Haiti has reported 3,342 cases and 259 deaths as a result of the cholera outbreak. Although the increase in cases is beginning to stabilize, the Red Cross continues to scale up cholera treatment and prevention efforts across the country.

Notably, the Red Cross is broadcasting emergency messages about the causes, symptoms and means of preventing cholera. Since October 21, the Red Cross network has sent SMS text messages twice a day to people in the affected region. As of October 24, these text messages were reaching about 30,000 cell phone users in the Artibonite River valley area and 350,000 cell phone users in Port-au-Prince.

Tomorrow, people in the Artibonite River valley area will receive a potentially life-saving tip on their cell phones:

Kwa Wouj: Bwe seròm oral pou ka trete dyare. Yon lit dlo trete, 8 ti kiyè sik, 1/2 ti kiyè sèl.
Red Cross: Drink ORS to treat diarrhoea. 1 litre of treated water, 8 teaspoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Meanwhile, residents of Port-au-Prince will receive a preventative message:

Kwa Wouj: Lave men w ak savon pou w pwoteje tèt ou kont kolera- devan, dèyè tout dwèt ou ak zong ou.
Red Cross: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap to protect against cholera – front, back, between fingers and nails for 20 seconds.

A 5-person American Red Cross Emergency Response Team has been activated to deploy to St. Marc to help coordinate the global Red Cross network response. In addition, the American Red Cross is contributing two specialists to support the global Red Cross response.

The American Red Cross is running the largest health promotion effort in the camps of Port-au-Prince, and is now making cholera the main focus of its tent-by-tent discussions with residents. Red Cross volunteers that normally support other projects in Haiti are being trained to deliver cholera prevention messages, in both Port-au-Prince and Arcahaie to the north. In total, approximately 200 volunteers will be working in shifts 7 days a week, with the goal of reaching more than 70,000 people this week and half a million people within the next month. In addition to hygiene promotion messages, volunteers will be distributing soap, oral rehydration salts and water tablets.

The American Red Cross also has provided sufficient chlorine to produce nearly 75,000 gallons of clean water for affected areas.

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