Sugar and Salt

It is estimated that about 10,000 people in Haiti are in hospitals because of cholera. Around the country, at least 650 have died from the disease – in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, there has been 1 reported death from the disease.

Doctors are most worried about an outbreak occurring in Port-au-Prince because about 1.3 million people live in tents around the city, where sanitation is poor, and rates are infection are very high. Especially cholera being a water-borne disease, transmission is incredibly easy and some doctors estimate that up to 270,000 Haitians will be infected with Cholera within 6 months.

Despite the horrible effects of Cholera on the body [including diarrhea, vomiting, and severe dehydration], there is an incredibly simple cure.

A mixture of sugar and salt with water called an ‘oral rehydration solution’ is a cheap, simple, life-saving cure to cholera. Effective even when mixed with dirty water, this sugar and salt mix has been used to save thousands of infants, children, and even adults from cholera in areas of poverty.

Though the solution is so easy to make, in Haiti it still is difficult to make the solution as water sanitation is still very poor in many areas in Haiti after the January earthquake, and Hurricane Thomas, which passed by Haiti just last week.

After so much suffering, through events far beyond the earthquake last January which captured the attention, and broke the hearts of millions around the world, the people of Haiti deserve so much more. Death by cholera – such an easily curable disease – is what Haitians call ‘Li mouri bet’, ‘such a stupid death’. But as Paul Farmer states, “fighting such ‘stupid deaths’ is never the work of one, or even of a small group”. It takes a village to raise a child, and even more to stop such stupid deaths.

Josh Ruxin, the director of Rwanda Works and a Columbia expert on public health wrote a Kristof editorial in the New York Times about the history and the effectiveness of the sugar and salt solution. You should definitely check it out if you want to learn more – it can be viewed here!!!


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