Dr. John Carroll, another courageous HEAS partner, sent us a dispatch tonight- the culmination of four days' activities on the ground:
Thursday, January 12, 2012—
We passed a little house with many kids and an older lady waving at us from the front yard. Rumor had it that there were four cholera deaths recently from that house alone. So I jumped out of our vehicle and talked to the lady who appeared to be in charge. She told me that in the last couple of months she had lost two of her children, a two and one half year old and a five year old, as well as her brother and her mother to vomiting and diarrhea. I assume this was cholera.
A similar phenomenon was observed during HEAS partner deployments in the Sud Est Mountains- nearly entire families wiped out by cholera. Few believed us during that reporting, but this is what it means to encounter cholera in the 2/3 of Haiti that is rural, mountainous, isolated, and "not on the grid". This is the biggest criticism of recently published studies claiming Twitter and open source harvesting "beats public health". We agree in principle, but it still does not take you to operational relevance once you are deployed on the ground.
Ground truth trumps ALL.