OUANAMINTHE, Nord-Est, HT (sentinel.ht) – Some 279 Vodou priests and priestesses, Hougans and Mambos, received cholera training and education as part of a prevention and care project from the English global charity, Oxfam.
— UNICEF Haiti (@UNICEFHaiti) September 1, 2016
The training took place across 9 different towns in the North East Department, including Cap-Haitien, Ouanaminthe, Fort Liberte, Mombin Crochu, Limbe La Plaisance, Au Borgne and Port-Margot.
The vodou leaders were trained in cholera prevention, preparation of Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS), intra-domiciliary decontamination and referencing a suspected case of cholera to the nearest health center from their homes or their workplaces so that they contribute to reductions in cholera-related mortality.
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.
In the immediate aftermath of the cholera outbreak about 40 vodou practitioners were attacked and killed by mobs who blamed their existence for the outbreak. They faced the same persecution following the January 12, 2010 earthquake and typically whenever a catastrophic incident takes place.
The programs is 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.