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).
The U.N.’s Pan-American Health Organization, the United States and the international community “should be working with the Haitian Health Ministry to wage a more aggressive and effective effort” against the cholera epidemic that hit the country last year, and those efforts “should include not only clean water and sanitation systems but more antibiotics and cholera vaccinations,” a New York Times editorial says. “Ramping up manufacturing” of the cholera vaccine — of which there are less than 400,000 doses worldwide — “could be readily done and would have global benefits,” the editorial states.
The U.N. “announced Monday that Somalia’s famine had spread to a sixth area within the country, with officials warning that 750,000 people could die in the next few months unless aid efforts were scaled up,” the New York Times reports (Gettleman/Kyama, 9/5).
When a cholera outbreak began months after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, health workers used cell phones to help track the movements of people leaving the epicenter, allowing them “to alert medics to go where infected people might carry the disease,” according to a report published on Tuesday in PLoS Medicine, NPR’s health blog “Shots” reports. “The second wave of cases did appear exactly in the areas where most of the population was moving to … out of the cholera zone,” public health specialist Richard Garfield of Columbia University said, the blog notes. Health officials also used the phones to send health advice to Haitians over voice mail or text messaging, according to the blog (Joyce, 8/31).
“A cholera pandemic that has swept poor countries in three waves over nearly four decades has been traced to a bacterial strain that first emerged in Bangladesh, scientists reported on Wednesday,” Agence France-Presse reports. “The new probe, published in the British journal Nature, points to the likely role of modern travel in transmitting the bacteria — and the importance of the Gulf of Bengal as a ‘reservoir,’ or source from which the germ can always be transmitted,” AFP writes (8/24).