Joseph Francis, 54, says he came to this cholera clinic in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince,after becoming so dehydrated he could barely walk. Cholera has killed more than 7,000 Haitians since the first outbreak of the disease in October 2010. At the start of the rainy season, cases are once again beginning to climb.
A hundred thousand people in Haiti are ready and waiting to get vaccinated against cholera.
The vaccine is sitting in coolers. Vaccination teams are all trained. Willing recipients are registered and entered into databases.
The impending mass vaccination project aims to show that vaccinating against cholera is feasible in Haiti. It has never been done in the midst of an ongoing cholera epidemic. So far, more than 530,000 Haitians have fallen ill with cholera, and more than 7,000 have died.
Thousands of doses of cholera vaccine sit in a refrigerated trailer in a United Nations compound in Saint-Marc, Haiti. Vaccination was supposed to begin last week, but bureaucratic problems have delayed the start. April is the beginning of Haiti's rainy season, which will likely intensify Haiti's cholera outbreak.
The vaccine — $417,000 worth of it — is stacked high in refrigerated containers to protect it from the Haitian heat.
Hundreds of health workers are trained and ready to give the vaccine. They're armed with programmed smartphones and tablet computers to keep track of who has been vaccinated and who needs a second dose.
And 100,000 eager Haitians, from the teeming slums of Port-au-Prince to tiny hamlets in Haiti's rice bowl, have signed up to get the vaccine.
Haitians suffering from cholera symptoms rest at the treatment center in Mirebalais, a dusty town north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, last June. The cholera epidemic in Haiti began in Mirebalais, believed to be the result of overflowing bathrooms from a nearby U.N. compound.
The cholera outbreak in Haiti is currently the worst ongoing episode in the world.
Over the past 15 months, it has sickened more than half a million people and killed roughly 7,000. The bacteria has now spread throughout the Caribbean island, and medical experts say it will be around for years to come.
Partners in Health, a Boston-based nonprofit, is planning to launch an unprecedented cholera vaccination campaign to try to curb the outbreak — but it faces many challenges, including a shortage of the vaccine.
A worker pushes a wheelbarrow past the new National Teaching Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti, on Jan. 10. When it opens this summer, the 320-bed facility will be Haiti's largest hospital and provide services and a level of care well beyond what's currently available.
Even before the devastating earthquake in 2010, Haiti's public health care system was perhaps the worst in the Western Hemisphere. Then the quake knocked down clinics, killed medical workers and severely damaged the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince, the capital.
Now, the Boston-based group Partners in Health has set out to build a world-class teaching hospital in what used to be a rice field in the Haitian countryside.
On Jan. 12, for the second anniversary of the devastating earthquake, thousands of people flocked to the Shalom Church in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The "church" is just a plywood stage under a patchwork of tattered tarps.
The crowd was so large that it spilled down a muddy hill toward a tent camp for earthquake victims. Most of the singing, swaying congregation were so far away they couldn't even see the podium.
The evangelical mission now claims to have more than 50,000 members and one of the most popular radio stations in Haiti.