Baptist World Alliance
Eron Henry, Associate Director of Communications
Neville Callam, General Secretary
Phone: +1 703 790 8980
Fax: +1 703 893 5160

October 28, 2010

For Immediate Release

Baptists respond to Haiti cholera outbreak

Washington (BWA)-- Baptist World Aid (BWAid), the relief and development arm of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), has sent emergency funds of more than US$12,000 into Haiti to help counter the recent cholera outbreak.

The funds will be sent to Baptist Haiti Mission (BHM), a BWA member body in the north Caribbean country. The funds will be used by Baptist churches "to transport patients, pay medical help and supplies, and getting clean water to those in need," said Edrice Romelus of BHM.

Thirty one BHM churches are "in the heart of the affected areas," Romelus told the BWA. The monies, he said, are to be used by local churches to provide "direct support" to those who are ill or at risk.

More than 300 persons have died and more than 4,000 persons have been treated for cholera mainly in the northwestern part of the country in Saint-Marc, approximately 100 kilometers or 62 miles north of the capital Port-au-Prince. Contamination is believed to have emanated from the Artibonite River, the longest river in Haiti.

Cholera can be a deadly disease if left untreated. Symptoms include severe diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Transmission is primarily through contaminated drinking water or food.

Joel Dorsinville of the Baptist Convention of Haiti, another BWA member body, said the convention is collaborating with "medical persons to accurately survey the situation." He said reports indicate that the disease has spread "north to Gros-Morne, Plaisance, Limbe; and south to Archaie and Port-au-Prince."

He said that "prices in the market places have increased due to the fact that our neighbor, the Dominican Republic, has closed the borders between the two countries."

French- and Creole-speaking Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic.

The convention, Dorsinville told the BWA, is engaged in providing information and educating the public on how to prevent the disease from spreading. He stated that proper water treatment is a necessity.

Haiti is yet to recover from a devastating earthquake that occurred on January 12 that killed tens of thousands of persons, injured several hundred thousand, and displaced more than one million, many of whom are still living in "tent cities" in and around Port-au-Prince, much of which was destroyed by the temblor.  

Since the quake, the BWA has spent several hundred thousand dollars in relief and rebuilding efforts in Haiti.