Haiti: Half a Million Cases of Cholera in One Year

Human Wrongs Watch

Geneva–Almost 470,000 cases of cholera, including 6,595 deaths, have been reported in Haiti since an epidemic of the disease erupted in the Caribbean country one year ago, according to UN figures. Haiti’s total population is estimated in less then 10 million inhabitants. The UN reports that only half of the aid promised for this year was received.

Credit: UN

Some 250,000 of the cholera patients had been hospitalized over the past year, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) reported on October 21. WHO spokesperson, Tarek Jasarevic, said told in Geneva that the disease could infect 75,000 another by the end of the year if the current trend continues, bringing the cumulative total number of cases to about half a million.

Significant Increase

After a decline in weekly cholera incidents in August, the number of cases rose in September, with South and Nippes departments seeing significant increases, along with Nord, Centre, and the capital Port-au-Prince.

Jasarevic said that with heavy rainfall forecast this month in the departments of South, South-East, North and other parts of the country, conditions favourable to the spread of cholera and other diseases water-borne diseases are expected to arise.

There are currently 37 cholera treatment centres in Haiti, 269 cholera treatment units and 766 oral rehydration posts.

Donors Withdrawing

According to Jasarevic, a number of WHO’s partners had withdrawn or were scaling down their operations in Haiti due to a lack of funding. The agency has urged the humanitarian community and donors to remain vigilant as long term and coordinated cholera response may be necessary.

Valerie Amos, the under-secretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs said on n October 4 that access to safe drinking water, sanitation and food are the priority humanitarian needs in Haiti over the next year.

Extremely Vulnerable

She stressed that the estimated 600,000 people still in camps after last year’s earthquake continue to depend on aid for survival.

They are extremely vulnerable, facing food insecurity, the threat to cholera and of course natural disasters, such as the current hurricane season,” Amos said after a a recent visit to Haiti.

During her visit to one of the camps in a neighbourhood of the capital, Port-au-Prince, residents expressed frustration over having to continuing living in the camps because they cannot afford to rent houses or repair their own homes.

While important efforts are being made to put the country on the road to recovery, and I fully support this, significant humanitarian needs remain and must be addressed,” she said.

Only Half of the Promised Aid Received

The international community needs to work together to support Haiti. We cannot forget the hundreds of thousands of people living in camps or are affected by the cholera epidemic. We have asked for $382 million for critical relief and protection work this year and have so far received only 57 per cent of the funding needed,” said Ms. Amos.

Guarding against gender-based violence and forced evictions from the camps also remain a critical concern for humanitarian agencies, she added.

*Source: UN News Centre http://www.un.org/apps/news/printnews.asp?nid=40149

2011 Human Wrongs Watch

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