Dr. Patricia Wolff Writes on Cholera Outbreak in St. Louis Post Dispatch Letters to Editor

Follow this link to read Dr. Wolff’s letter to the November 2nd 2010 print edition of St. Louis Post Dispatch  

Cholera outbreak shows Haiti needs help

Haiti is making international headlines again. Still reeling from a devastating earthquake in January, the country now is battling an outbreak of cholera that already has claimed the lives of more than 300 people. If the disease continues to spread, authorities are concerned for the welfare of the 1.3 million people who still are living in unsanitary conditions in tent camps.

This outbreak should serve as a vivid reminder of all we take for granted here in the United States. Clean water, food and shelter are precarious or lacking for more than two thirds of the world’s population. A cholera outbreak here would not have the mortality rate experienced in Haiti. Much of the Haitian population is malnourished and, thus, suffers from suppressed immune systems incapable of fighting infectious disease.

Haiti needs immediate help and practical development that will make the country and its people more self-sustaining and less vulnerable. One such approach that’s working successfully is through Meds & Food for Kids, a St. Louis-based non-profit working to provide life-saving food to severely malnourished children and to drive economic development in Haiti. We strive to treat illness and address its underlying causes.

Our manufacture and distribution of peanut butter medicine is truly a miracle for Haitian kids who go from severely malnourished to healthy in just six weeks. By training Haitian farmers, using Haitian peanuts and employing Haitians to make and distribute this nutritional medicine, we are helping create both physical and economic health that will make Haitians and Haiti less vulnerable. Poverty leads to malnutrition, which leads to a fragile population.

We applaud the efforts of all those working to build a stronger Haiti and stronger Haitian people. We believe that success is attainable. Together, we can and should provide a brighter future for Haiti, our neighbor and long-suffering friend.