Medical & Human Waste Risks Soar

Crumbled sewage systems have left the Haitian authorities with the problem of poor sanitation. Since last month’s earthquake both medical and human waste has been dumped into pits near tent camps. Public health is at risk of diseases ranging from severe diarrhea to cholera, typhoid, and shigellosis. Typhoid and shigellosis are contracted from contaminated food and water.

Tent camps were set up to accommodate the masses of people who were homeless after the earthquake. Some camps are without latrines or portable toilets. Donated latrines in other areas have overflowed due to light rain. Rain is expected to increase in the following months.

Added donations of 10,000 latrines and portable toilets, only partially addresses the problem. Jessica Barry, spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, says there is a need for “a way to remove the excrement.”

Currently, trucks dump the waste and garbage into pits to be burned. Some trucks have been seen dumping before getting to the pits. Sadly, some desperate people have scavenged the area. “There is food to be found here, and sometimes wood to cook with, ” one boy said.

Photo by Todd Heisler/The New York Times

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