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Haiti - Health : 279 voodoo priests trained on cholera
04/09/2016 09:19:39

Haiti - Health : 279 voodoo priests trained on cholera
Under the National Plan for Elimination of Cholera 2012- 2022, a project to fight against cholera is implemented by Oxfam in partnership with the DSN, the DSNE, the DSC in the departments of the North / Northeast since 2014 and in the Centre since 2015, with funding from UNICEF.

Recall that the cholera is a human disease caused by Vibrio cholerae which can be treated easily if support is provided on time. Despite the efforts made to tackle cholera, it still represents a major public health issue in the country.

In Haiti, fighting against cholera must take into account the beliefs, practices and existing knowledge in order to initiate the necessary change in behavior to reduce the number of people affected by cholera. Many believe that there are two kinds of cholera (one true and one false) or that cholera is the result of a divine curse or an evil spell. This misconception of the disease leads them to consult voodoo priests (houngan and mambo) to be cured. Therefore, one of the axes of this project was to work on cholera prevention directly with voodoo priests in the areas of suspected cases of cholera. The aim was indeed to educate and train Voodoo leaders of these regions on cholera prevention, preparation of ORS (Oral Rehydration Salts), intra-domiciliary decontamination and referencing a suspected case of cholera in the nearest health center so that they contribute to reduce cholera mortality.

A total of 279 voodoo priests (Houngans and Mambos) from 9 different towns (Ouanaminthe, Fort Liberté, Mombin Crochu, Limbé, Plaisance, Borgne, Cap-Haitien, Port-Margot) have been trained.

Now, they know that cholera is an infectious disease caused by Vibrio cholerae, know the signs and symptoms of cholera. They are able to identify a suspected case, to prepare an oral rehydration solution and to rehydrate immediately a patient. They are also able to call the staff from the nearest health center or to refer a suspected cholera cases to the nearest health center. They know how to prepare a chlorine solution to disinfect their homes or workplaces.

Houngans and Mambos do not all agree that cholera is an infectious disease. Some say there are two types of cholera: a true cholera (caused by Vibrio cholerae) and a false cholera (caused by humans via “powder, batteries and cholera zombies”). At this point, there remain a large outreach work to achieve. But in case of diarrhea, they all agree that the person should be rehydrated and sent to the nearest hospital.

The voodoo priests actively participated in discussions at meetings and showed great enthusiasm for the demonstration activities for preparation of ORS. They shared their experiences and understandings of cholera. However we must continue the work and are putting up with the voodoo priests a monitoring plan for early warning and referencing of suspected cholera cases.

HL/ HaitiLibre

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