Lack of hygiene, the main problem in fighting cholera
The flow of contaminated water through drains close to neighborhoods reinforces the risk of contracting cholera./ Jorge Luís Martinez
Santo Domingo DR
The environment in which many families in popular neighborhoods of Greater Santo Domingo live is clouded by the precarious hygienic conditions in which they develop their daily life.
Dirty and stagnant water in different sectors such as La Zurza, Villa Almirante, and Villas Agrícolas are some of the causes for which the bacterial disease of cholera has taken hold in these places.
According to some community members of La Zurza, the conditions in which they live do not allow them to live in an environment with optimal conditions to prevent viral diseases.
“One tries to be clean in one’s little house, but there are many people here who do not have water and have to go to do their things in the river and they bring the disease to one’s house,” said Monica Peralta, a community member of La Zurza, who was inoculated against cholera.
In the same sector, a journalist of Listín Diario approached a 32-year-old man walking towards one of the pools to wash, and when he answered why he was doing it, he limited himself to express that “it is better to bathe like that.”
“We are used to it, this cholera is not going to hit us because we are immune to it,” said the man.
In addition to the lack of safe drinking water, hand washing, and hygiene in the handling of food, the national territory is also plagued by a lack of education on the subject of neighborhood cleanliness, as commented by a psychologist who resides in the community of Villa Almirante. “Look what happens; many residents here (Villa Almirante) do not have enough hygienic education to be able to fight this type of disease, on the contrary, there are those who believe that living in a very poor way will create an immune system and nothing will ever happen to them,” said Leidy Bautista, a psychologist who attended to be inoculated in the Villa Almirante tent.
The Ministry of Public Health, aware of the seriousness of a probable cholera epidemic, began vaccinating the citizens. Although the number of inoculated people has been fruitful so far, some want to avoid going to the vaccination tents.
Such is the case of Manuel Domínguez, a resident of Villas Agrícolas, who told this newspaper that he does not trust the vaccine because it is oral. “If I have to take it, forget it, I’m not going to take the vaccine,” Dominguez said confidently.
Given the increase in cholera cases, the Public Health authorities initiated meetings with community members to discuss the different measures to avoid contracting the diarrheal disease, which is currently registering an outbreak in the sector of Villa Liberación in Santo Domingo East.
Since October, 36 cases of the disease have been confirmed, most of them in Greater Santo Domingo. Yesterday, the Ministry of Public Health teams continued the cholera vaccination campaign for people at higher risk, residents of vulnerable sectors, and provinces.
There was no Cholera until it appeared in Haiti. The first person that had cholera in DR was a Haitian women that traveled to her country and came back infected. Getting food and fruits from streets vendors (mostly Haitians) that don’t wash their hands regularly and have poor hygiene habits, is the problem. The cholera in DR came from Haiti and there are Haitians all over the country that go back and forth to their country. One more thing to add to the Haitian problem in DR.