Fighting cholera in Haiti

By December 30, 2010

Haiti (MNN) — Almost a year after the earthquake, the Haitian people
are still fighting another new enemy: cholera. Thousands of people continue to come down with the disease, said Bas
Vanderzalm of Medical Teams International

"We're working in partnership with local churches and a Christian
hospital and clinic in northern Haiti," he explained. "Every day, several hundred people who are sick with cholera are still coming to these areas. Cholera is a disease that can be easily
treated, but if it's not treated, it can kill someone in less than a day. So those who are coming often are very
sick, but with some basic care and some fluids, we can save their lives."

Medical Teams International has been working in Haiti since the
earthquake struck last January. Its volunteers began
providing orthopedic surgery for those who had lost their limbs in the
quake and then worked to fight the spread of disease. 

Cholera had not affected Haiti for the past 60 years. Since the earthquake displaced over one
million people from their homes, and many of those people are now living in
tent cities, the population was vulnerable when the disease returned.

In addition
to treating those who are infected, Medical Teams International is also working
in disease prevention. 

"We're also helping to go into the communities, working with
churches and others to train people on how to prevent cholera, how to make sure
that the water they drink is clean, and to stop the infection at the source,"
Vanderzalm explained. "We're trying to make sure that we eliminate
this disease and not just focus only on treating those who get sick." 

Medical Teams International needs help getting more of the medicine needed
to heal people. It costs a few dollars
to procure and ship every pill, so a gift of just ten dollars has the potential
to save a life. Those who receive the
medicine also have the opportunity to hear the Gospel. 

"We're working with Christian churches and hospitals and clinics. We
try to do that everywhere that we possibly can," Vanderzalm said. "When there is no presence of a Christian
church, we make sure we're working with partners…so that when people receive
help from us, they know that this is something that is coming to them because
of Jesus' love for them."

God is using the ministries of Christians in Haiti to help many people find
new life in Christ. 

"The churches are very active there," Vanderzalm explained. "Even in the middle of the suffering and the
difficulty, God is at work, and we have opportunities to show His love. And I know that people are coming to faith in
Him as a result of the work that we're doing." 

Pray for the church there to continue to grow in numbers and
strength. Also pray for the people as they
rebuild their lives. 

"The spirit of the people is really amazing," Vanderzalm said. "As I have had the privilege of going to Haiti
and being with those who have been affected, so many are working hard every day
to make their lives a little better, whether it's to have a small business, or
caring for others in the community. I'm
very impressed by the spirit of the Haitian people. And I do think that they are making progress
considering all that has happened in the country." 

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