In this post in KPLU 88.5’s “Humanosphere” blog, journalist Tom Murphy interviews reporter Jonathan Katz, “the first to break the story connecting U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal to the” cholera outbreak in Haiti. According to the interview transcript, they discuss Katz’s original reporting, the humanitarian response to the outbreak, and the current state of the outbreak, among other topics (8/16).
Haitian Government Hires Former Clinton Administration Official To Discuss Cholera Epidemic With Members Of U.S. Congress
“The Haitian government has hired a one-time Clinton administration official seeking to influence U.S. officials who pledged $3 billion after a 2010 earthquake devastated the impoverished nation’s capital,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. “Walter Corley, a former U.S. trade official, said Wednesday that he has been focusing on efforts to stem a cholera outbreak since he was hired by Haiti in April on a one-year contract that pays $5,000 a month,” the news service writes. According to AP, “Corley said he has discussed the cholera epidemic with members of Congressional Black Caucus, including Democratic Reps. John Conyers of Michigan and Maxine Waters of California” (8/15).
“The first case of cholera has emerged among thousands of people in an impromptu refugee camp in eastern Congo who fled fighting between a new rebel group and government forces backed by U.N. peacekeepers,” according to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the Associated Press/Washington Post reports (Muhumuza, 8/3). The first case was detected on Friday, and since then at least nine people have died of the disease, MSF said, according to Al Jazeera (8/5).
“In April, Partners In Health [PIH] responded to Haiti’s cholera epidemic by providing oral vaccinations to 45,000 people living in the country’s Artibonite region — specifically, to two rice-farming communities hit hard by cholera,” Louise Ivers, senior health and policy adviser at PIH, reports in an article on the organization’s webpage. “In partnership with Haiti’s Ministry of Health, hundreds of community health workers fanned out across the rural, flood-prone area, delivering two doses to each person by the end of May,” she writes, and discusses the impact of the campaign (8/1).
Noting that several organizations recently have closed or consolidated their cholera treatment centers in Haiti, Jason Hayes with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting writes in an opinion analysis in the Huffington Post Blog, “In order to stop cholera, a water-borne illness, you need to change the ways people interact with water. It is no easy task.” Despite massive education campaigns to distribute information on how to prevent cholera, including hand washing and water treatment, and reports showing that “Haitians hungrily internalized the information,” “there is often an appalling gap between knowledge and action,” and the number of cases began to rise again in the early summer of 2011.
“Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, is now the center of a cholera epidemic after the first confirmed case surfaced in the north of the country in February,” IRIN reports, noting, “Since January, Sierra Leone has seen 4,249 cases of cholera and 76 people have died from the waterborne disease” (7/25). In related news, “[c]onflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where M23 rebels and other armed groups are fighting government forces, is dangerously undermining efforts to combat a cholera outbreak” in the country, IRIN writes in a separate article. According to the news service, “There has been ‘a sharp increase in the number of cholera cases in the armed conflict area of North Kivu’ Province, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement” (7/25).
“U.S. legislators are appealing to the United Nations to take a greater role in addressing Haiti’s cholera outbreak, now in its third year and which has left thousands dead,” Inter Press Service reports. “In a letter addressed to U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan Rice, 104 U.S. members of Congress urged Rice to help step up U.N. concern over the outbreak,” the news service writes. “‘It is imperative for the U.N. to now act decisively to control the cholera epidemic,’ Representative John Conyers, Jr. [D-Mich.] wrote,” adding, “A failure to act will not only lead to countless more deaths … [but] will pose a permanent public health threat,” IPS notes (Freedman, 7/20).
NPR’s “Shots” blog reports on the results of a “high-visibility pilot project to vaccinate 100,000 Haitians against cholera.” The blog writes, “Almost 90 percent of the target population — half in Port-au-Prince and the other half in a remote rural area — got fully protected against cholera, meaning they got two doses of the oral vaccine,” adding, “The sponsors of the project — the nonprofit medical groups GHESKIO in Port-au-Prince and Partners in Health in rural Haiti — presented the results on Monday at a session with the country’s health minister, Dr. Florence Guillaume.”
“Cuba’s health ministry on Saturday reported 158 cases of cholera, nearly three times as many as previously disclosed, but said there were no new deaths and the outbreak appears to have been contained and on the wane,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports (7/14). In a statement, the health ministry “denied there had been a ‘spread’ of cholera on the Communist-ruled island, blaming the incidents outside the affected town of Manzanillo on ‘isolated cases,’ that would be ‘treated and studied promptly,'” Agence France-Presse writes. “Health officials have said they believe heavy rains and hot temperatures contributed to the outbreak,” the news agency notes (7/15).
UNICEF and the WHO “are warning of an alarming upsurge in cholera across West Africa’s Sahel region, the area at the southern fringe of the Sahara Desert running from Mauritania to Chad,” VOA News reports (Schlein, 7/10). “So far in 2012, cholera has killed nearly 700 people in West and Central Africa and more than 29,000 cases were reported,” according to a UNICEF press release (7/10). “Both UNICEF and WHO say they are critically short of funds to do what is needed to contain the outbreak,” but “[t]hey say action must be taken now before the number of cholera cases explodes,” VOA writes (7/10). IRIN examines efforts to curb the spread of cholera in Guinea, with the administration of a vaccine, and Sierra Leone (7/10).