Secretary Clinton Visit to Partners in Health Cholera Treatment Center

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
January 30, 2011

MR. SMITH: I’m Steven Smith from the U.S. Embassy. I’m the health sector coordinator here in Haiti, and it’s a real pleasure to welcome you here, Madam Secretary Clinton, Your Honor. And I have very good news for you. The cholera situation here in Haiti is improving. It’s been a very rough few months, but we’re seeing a decrease in the number of cases. And really, more importantly, we’re seeing a decrease in human fatality. That’s due to an awful lot of hard work, led by the Ministry of Health, supported by the U.S. Government and (inaudible) partners, like Partners in Health. There’s been a tremendous response (inaudible). So we’re very proud of what we’ve done here.

At the same time, cholera is not gone yet. We are looking at cholera being in Haiti for a long time. We are still seeing hundreds of cases (inaudible). We’re still very much engaged (inaudible) response, and we expect to be engaged in that response for an extended period of time.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Is it true that cholera was not present before the earthquake?

MR. SMITH: Cholera has not been recognized in Haiti for at least (inaudible). It’s not something – the Haitian medical practitioners did not have experience with it, so we really had to start at the very beginning, which we did. We started building on the platform of what we already had in place. We’ve been working with PEPFAR here. We’ve been working to build capacity at the national lab and (inaudible). And we use those platforms to build a better rapid cholera response. For example, cholera showed up in here in October, and we found it quickly using the surveillance system we set up in response to the earthquake. And the national lab was able to identify cholera here in Haiti. We didn’t have to send the samples to Atlanta. And that’s because of our work with the government to build (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: And I want to hear from Partners in Health, too.

MS. DORSINVILLE: Yes. Welcome. I want to welcome you particularly on behalf of (inaudible) and all our partners here. We’ve been in two camps (inaudible) and four other camps (inaudible) continuing with healthcare, primary healthcare, women’s health, healthcare for the amputees. And so when the cholera outbreak came, we were prepared and we got the structures in place. And we’ve been working not only (inaudible) primary care, but also responding (inaudible) equipment (inaudible) and a lot of training of practitioners and community health workers.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Can you identify yourself?

MS. DORSINVILLE: Oh, I’m Nancy Dorsinville with Partners in Health.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’ve had a chance to meet Nancy before. I want to, first of all, express my great appreciation and admiration for everyone working to stem and then reverse the cholera epidemic that Haiti had to contend with since October. The United States Government is very committed to continuing our support for the work that is being done here. We have many ways of doing that, and certainly directly through our Embassy, USAID, PEPFAR, CDC, so many other American Government entities, and then also through our support for the Haitian Government and NGOs like Partners in Health.

But I am very impressed by what has been accomplished in a short period of time, and I want to reassure and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the needs of the Haitian people, the health needs and other needs that are present and in many ways exacerbated by the continuing efforts at reconstruction and redevelopment following the earthquake.

But I wanted to come and see for myself. It’s a good news story to the extent that the numbers are diminishing, but it’s by no means over. They are still admitting patients, as they did today. They are still treating people. And thankfully, we are better equipped to be able to save lives and limit the fatalities. But we have a long way to go, just as we have a long way to go in our ongoing work with Haiti. So I thank both of you.

PRN: 2011/T39-3