Central African Republic Health Minister Jean-Michel Mandaba on Friday declared a new outbreak of cholera in the south of the country had already killed at least 10 people, Agence France-Presse reports. “Mandaba also urged the country’s ‘bilateral and multilateral partners’ to provide financial and technical aid,” the news agency writes. Health officials two months ago warned of a possible outbreak because of cases in nearby countries, according to the news agency (10/1).
Haitian health authorities on Friday said the death toll from cholera has risen to 6,435 since October and that “the number of people infected with cholera almost reached half a million, although the ministry repeated the epidemic was decreasing,” Xinhua reports (9/30). U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos wrapped up a three-day visit to Haiti on Friday, saying the “number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) still in camps in Haiti after their homes were destroyed by last year’s catastrophic earthquake has declined from 1.5 million to 600,000, but hardship in the settlements has not eased,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “Limited funding has led to a decline in the number of humanitarian agencies working in key sectors, such as water and sanitation and camp management. Hundreds of latrines are now unusable and overflow, especially during the current rainy season, posing significant health risks, even as efforts to keep the cholera epidemic at bay continue,” the news service writes (9/30).
Though “[c]holera vaccines are not a magic bullet and are not available in adequate numbers” to vaccinate everyone in Haiti, where at least 10 people die each day in an outbreak that began in October 2010, “there are compelling reasons to add vaccinations to the arsenal of public health weapons that has been deployed against cholera in Haiti,” a Washington Post editorial states. Efforts to improve access to clean water, educate the public about cholera transmission and treat those infected are ongoing, “[b]ut those efforts should be supplemented with an ambitious vaccination program starting as soon as practicable,” the editorial writes.
Chad Faces Food Security And Health Challenges, But Opportunity Exists For Improvement, U.N. Official Says
U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Chad Thomas Gurtner “says Chad faces daunting food security and health challenges” but that “peace and growing stability in Chad bodes well for the country’s future,” VOA News reports. He cited high rates of food insecurity and malnutrition among children, “insufficient rainfall” that likely will “limit agricultural production,” rising food prices, the “worst cholera epidemic in years,” and the return home of more than 80,000 Chadian migrants who were working in Libya and sending money home to their families, the news service notes.
A VOA News editorial says U.S. support to Haiti since the early days of an outbreak of cholera, which has affected more than 439,600 people since it was first detected almost a year ago, “remains unfailing.” The editorial continues, “To date, the U.S. government has spent more than $75 million on improved water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, … has established and operated treatment centers and trained Haitian health care workers in preventing, diagnosing and treating cholera,” among other treatment, prevention and monitoring initiatives. “While some humanitarian groups are gradually reducing their operations in Haiti, the U.S. remains focused on giving the Haitian government the aid and tools needed to prevent and treat this potentially deadly disease,” the editorial says, adding, “The medical and public health response has been effective in limiting deaths associated with the disease” (9/12).
A cholera epidemic in West and Central Africa, which is being worsened by heavy rains and flooding, has already caused nearly 40,000 cases this year in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, killing almost 1,200 people in the countries adjacent to the Lake Chad Basin, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), VOA News reports.
Yves Engler, a Canadian writer and author, writes in a post on the Guardian’s “Comment Is Free” blog that local citizens and investigative journalists have alleged that the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Minustah) dumped feces and other waste in holes a few feet from water used for drinking and bathing in the central plateau city of Hinche on August 6 and again 10 miles from Hinche on August 21, as well as cites a report (.pdf) stating that sewage disposal at the U.N. base near Mirebalais 10 months ago caused a devastating cholera outbreak.
Stacey McMahan, sustainability advisor and design fellow with Architecture for Humanity, who has resided in Port-au-Prince, Haiti for a year teaching the locals how to build safe structures, writes about the importance of clean drinking water as an integral part of post-earthquake recovery in Haiti, which she writes will be ongoing in Haiti for decades, in this post in Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog.
“Cholera in Haiti is the worst epidemic that this hemisphere has seen in decades, yet it has received relatively little attention,” Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and president of Just Foreign Policy writes in this Al Jazeera opinion piece, adding, “The international community has failed Haiti in so many ways and for so many years that it is almost unimaginable.”
“Cholera epidemics have hit tens of thousands of people and killed more than 1,400 others in seven West and Central African countries since the start of the year, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a report on Tuesday,” AlertNet reports. According to the news service, affected countries include Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Republic of Congo (Fominyen, 9/7). The Red Cross, which said the outbreak was spreading, expressed concern that it could hit refugee camps along the Sudanese border, according to Agence France-Presse (9/7).