April 13, 2023
Doctors of the World warns of the humanitarian needs of thousands of migrants abandoned in the desert in Assamaka (Niger)
On March 22, 2023, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the World Water Day. A day to raise awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water and more than half of the global population do not have access to safe sanitation. When water security is hindered, whether due to drought, contamination, or damaged water infrastructure, it can undermine progress on all major global issues: health, hunger, gender equality, education, industry, and conflict.
Water security has been recognized as a growing critical issue, marked as the 6 Sustainable Development Goal by the United Nations 2030 Agenda. Unfortunately, it is clear that this goal is far from being met and a water crisis is impacting countries across the world due to overdemand, mismanagement and the impacts of the triple crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. 80% of the world’s wastewater is discharged untreated directly into the environment. Now, 40% of the world’s population live in areas affected by water stress. Water resilience is key to prevent and address the current and future health, food and energy crises.
At Doctors of the World, we see on a daily basis how water insecurity can have serious consequences on a person’s wellbeing. In many of our programs across the world, it is clear that safe water and sanitation are major barriers to health and safety.
Haiti is facing no shortages of crises. The country has been hit the last few years with terrifying earthquakes, hurricanes, gang-violence, economic collapse, political instability and now an energy crisis. The result of which has put serious strain on their access to safe water and sanitation. In particular, gang violence has limited humanitarian aid and has blocked the Varreux oil terminal, which in turn has led to a shortage of fuel. This growing energy crisis has affected the health infrastructure, along with access to clean drinking water.
Without healthcare infrastructure and access to clean water, a cholera outbreak is once again spreading through Haiti, especially as living conditions of the most vulnerable people continue to deteriorate. The Haitian Ministry of Health has already reported in mid-February a total of 30,715 suspected cases in 10 departments of the country, including 2,283 confirmed cases, 27,014 hospitalized suspected cases, and 594 registered deaths, and this rate is steadily growing.
Doctors of the World is currently working to address and contain this growing outbreak, in hopes of preventing a devastating cholera epidemic, like the one that occurred between 2010 to 2019 that claimed 10,000 lives. We are currently providing support to 25 health facilities, including several diarrhea treatment centers with the distribution of medical inputs, PPE, and awareness/prevention activities at the community and institutional levels. Along with providing medical expertise and support, our actions have also heavily focused on prevention, providing training to watchdog committees and healthcare providers on how to contain a cholera outbreak. We are also working to distribute buckets with taps, water purification tablets and rehydration solution sachets, to prevent and treat cholera cases.
An over decade-long conflict in Syria has left more than 15.3 million people in need of humanitarian aid. The non-stop violence, air raids and bombing have done more than destroy the homes and lives of the civilian population, it has also shattered the country’s critical infrastructure leaving them without access to clean water, healthcare, and food. In fact, the conflict has seriously damaged the water and channel networks, resulting in a decreased supply by 40% while only 52% of the hospitals are operational under harsh conditions.
Without clean water and secure healthcare, a cholera outbreak has begun to spread throughout Syria, much like in Haiti. Since the start of the outbreak at the end of August, there have been 84,607 suspected cases reported from all 14 governorates, including 101 attributed deaths to date. However, the situation is difficult to monitor and assess, with many unable to access healthcare and humanitarian aid being constrained due to the conflict between warring parties.
It is critical that repairs must be made to critical infrastructure so that the Syrian population may avoid the risk of using unsafe water. DotW has mobilized its team to address the growing cholera outbreak. So far it has directly reached 2,458 people and indirectly 12,290 people in need, focusing on preventative measures. However, with the recent earthquake leading to further damage to critical infrastructure, the situation will only continue to grow more dire. The clinics that DotW supports in the northern-part of the country will continue to monitor and provide aid, however it is clear that much more aid is needed by the international community.
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