The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support’s Medical supply chain procured 300,000 Oral Rehydration Salt packets last month to support Haiti’s response to a cholera outbreak within the Caribbean nation.
The ORS packets were purchased by U.S. Southern Command through their Humanitarian Assistance Program. SOUTHCOM then donated them to the Haitian and Pan American Health Organization during an official handover ceremony Dec. 14 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
The packets are being used to provide rehydration therapy to Haitians infected with the cholera illness. As of January 13, more than 20,000 suspected cases and approximately 450 deaths have been reported in the country, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Rehydration is crucial for treating cholera, an acute diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with Vibrio cholerae bacteria. Timely rehydration therapy can help more than 99% of cholera patients survive. That percentage falls to about 50% when not treated with rehydration therapy, according to the CDC.
Yvonne Poplowski, Medical Division chief, said communication and positive vendor relationships enabled their team to make a quick turnaround on the request.
“Once the SOUTHCOM team alerted us of the high-visibility task, we quickly secured the requirement and funds from SOUTHCOM,” she said. “Then our Medical and Surgical Procurement team was able to swiftly award a contract with our vendor, Alphapointe, for the 300,000 packets of Oral Rehydration Salts.”
Alphapointe, a not-for-profit organization that falls under the AbilityOne program, employs individuals who are blind or visually impaired. AbilityOne is a federal program involving more than 550 nonprofit organizations that provide competitive employment opportunities for blind and disabled individuals.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Daniel Erikson, who was present during the Dec. 14 ceremony, said the donation showcases the partnership between the U.S. and the Caribbean nation.
“This donation demonstrates the United States’ commitment to Latin America and the Caribbean and its commitment to help partner countries, and to relieve strain on health care systems, particularly in Haiti,” he said.
Poplowski said the effort also represents positive relationships at home as well.
“I think this is just a wonderful story of how one of our Medical AbilityOne vendors was able to support this high-viz humanitarian effort,” she said.