“Almost two years after the devastating 7.0 earthquake destroyed much of Port-au-Prince, full recovery appears to be years away,” the Miami Herald reports, noting that “[t]housands of people continue to live in makeshift shelters and tents [and] rubble from dilapidated buildings still line some streets” (Lee, 1/7). In addition, “[t]he cholera outbreak in Haiti is ‘one of the largest epidemics of the disease in modern history to affect a single country,’ the U.N. World Health Organization’s Pan-American Health Organization [PAHO] said in a news release,” according to United Press International (1/7).
“Cote d’Ivoire remains in great need of humanitarian assistance nine months after the end of the bloody post-election violence that displaced tens of thousands of people, a senior United Nations relief official said today, urging donors to continue their generosity to the West African country throughout this year,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “Considerable needs remain in several areas such as protection of civilians, restoration of means of livelihood, shelter, access to basic services and voluntary return and reintegration of displaced persons and refugees,” Catherine Bragg, assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and deputy U.N. emergency relief coordinator, said following a three-day visit to the nation, according to the news service (1/18).
Efforts To Fight Cholera In DRC Need To Include Sanitation, Waste Facility Improvements, Behavior Change, UNICEF Official Says
A cholera epidemic that began in January 2011 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is continuing because of “poor hygiene, lack of awareness of the population about transmission mechanisms, very limited access to protected and monitored water sources and lack of sanitation infrastructure,” according to Nona Zicherman, chief of emergency operations in DRC for UNICEF, IRIN reports. Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 30,000 cholera cases have been identified and more than 700 people have died of the disease since June 2011, the news service states. Zicherman “noted that emergency and medium- and long-term interventions to limit the spread of cholera needed to be developed,” including disinfecting contaminated areas, monitoring water sources, changing behaviors related to hygiene, and constructing water supply and sanitation facilities, according to IRIN (4/30).
“The cholera strain in Haiti is evolving, researchers reported Thursday, a sign that it may be taking deeper root in the nation less than two years after it appeared and killed thousands of people,” the Associated Press/USA Today reports. “The study released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that the bacterium is changing as survivors acquire at least some immunity to the original bug, which apparently was imported from Nepal,” the news service writes (Daniel, 5/5). “The evolution of the cholera strain was expected and typical of the disease, according to the CDC,” CBS Miami notes (5/4).
U.N., International Community Should Pledge To Improve Water, Sanitation In Haiti To Mitigate Cholera Epidemic
“The cholera epidemic in Haiti, which began in late 2010, is bad and getting worse, for reasons that are well understood and that the aid community has done far too little to resolve,” a New York Times editorial states, adding that the “Pan American Health Organization has said the disease could strike 200,000 to 250,000 people this year” and “has already killed more than 7,000.” The editorial says the U.N. “bears heavy responsibility for the outbreak,” as it is suspected that U.N. peacekeepers introduced the disease to the island nation, and it notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported this month that “cholera in Haiti was evolving into two strains, suggesting the disease would become much harder to uproot and that people who had already gotten sick and recovered would be vulnerable again.”
“U.N. Development Goals for better drinking water have already been reached, but a closer look shows that the measures fail to truly account for the lack of access to safe water,” Scientific American reports in a feature story. “[J]ust because water is pouring out of a spigot does not mean that it is safe to drink,” the article states, adding, “In poorer areas, where infrastructure and sanitation are often much worse, even sources of water that have been ‘improved’ are frequently at risk for contamination by human and animal feces, according to recent analyses.” The magazine details a number of studies on the issue and concludes, “[W]hether there are 800 million or 1.8 billion people who lack safe water, the scourge of preventable deadly diarrheal and other waterborne diseases will continue to plague too many” (Harmon, 5/21).
“As the world’s worst outbreak of cholera continues to ravage Haiti, international donors have averted their gaze,” a Washington Post editorial writes. The editorial notes that a “pilot project to vaccinate Haitians against the disease … reached only one percent of the population, with no immediate prospect of expansion,” and “[o]f the 100 or so cholera treatment centers that sprang up around the country after the disease was detected 19 months ago, fewer than a third remain.” The solution to the epidemic is “equally well known and costly,” the editorial states, adding, “Haiti needs modern water and sanitation infrastructure, an undertaking that might cost $1 billion. But while donors tend to respond generously to emergencies, such as the earthquake that devastated Haiti in early 2010, they lose interest in long-term fixes of the sort that would deal decisively with cholera.”
Inter Press Service reports on a cholera outbreak in Malawi’s Nsanje and Chikhwawa districts, located on the southern border with Mozambique, noting that government officials have attributed the outbreak to declining sanitation conditions as a result of flooding in late January. According to IPS, “up to 550 pit latrines were washed away in Nsanje alone, a district hardest hit by the floods,” and “[s]ewage from the latrines has contaminated water sources in the district, including boreholes and dug-out wells, thereby escalating the cholera incidents, according to the assistant Disaster Management Officer for Nsanje, Humphrey Magalasi.”
“Tuberculosis (TB) is the number one killer of the black population in South Africa, the S.A. Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) said on Thursday,” South Africa’s Times Live reports. “Spokeswoman Lerato Moloi said the population group was also most affected by flu, pneumonia and intestinal infectious diseases such as cholera” and that “colored people died predominantly of TB, followed by diabetes and chronic lower respiratory diseases,” the news service writes.
“A Haiti aid group warns on the eve of the rainy season that the Caribbean nation will likely see a surge in cholera cases,” the Associated Press/Seattle Times reports. “Paul Farmer of the Boston-based group Partners in Health writes in an email Friday that Haiti could see a spike like the one that occurred last year,” when the “number of cholera cases nearly tripled from almost 19,000 last April to more than 50,000 two months later,” the news service writes. The AP notes, “Partners in Health will launch a vaccination campaign in the coming weeks to stem the spread of the waterborne disease” (2/24).