“The question of who is responsible for Haiti’s cholera epidemic — the first that the Caribbean nation, the western hemisphere’s poorest, has seen in a century — has raised tempers since the first case was detected in October 2010,” TIME reports in an article examining a lawsuit filed against the U.N. claiming it is responsible for bringing the disease into the country and seeking damages for cholera victims and their families.
Water and Sanitation
In this Huffington Post opinion piece, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) writes about access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation among the world’s poor, stating, “As America prepares for the holiday season … I hope that Congress will give a gift of life, health and hope by helping people around the world with something that most Americans take for granted: safe drinking water.”
“The United Nations said on Friday it was seeking $268 million for aid efforts in Zimbabwe next year, with half the money to be used to buy food for more than 1.4 million people facing shortages” in 2012, Reuters reports. “The humanitarian situation in the country has continued to improve over the past couple of years. However, challenges still exist such as food insecurity” and lack of access to safe water, which has led to cholera and typhoid outbreaks, Alain Noudehou, country head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said, the news service notes (12/9).
Heavy rains and flooding in Kenya, which have affected more than 40,000 people and caused at least a dozen deaths, are “complicating efforts to reach thousands of people made homeless by the flooding, an official of the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) told IRIN.” Nelly Muluka, KRCS public relations and communications officer, said on Monday that in some areas “there is the danger of waterborne diseases breaking out after latrines and boreholes were submerged and in other areas, water pipelines have burst,” according to IRIN. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) said those affected by flooding “urgently require relief aid such as food, mosquito nets, tents, blankets, cooking utensils and medicine,” the news service writes, adding, “Teams comprising government, KRCS and U.N. officials are involved in rapid assessments of the flooding situation, a humanitarian official, who requested anonymity, told IRIN” (12/6).
“United Nations aid agencies said Friday more than five million Pakistanis are in need of humanitarian assistance following the floods earlier this year,” with nearly half of those being children, the VOA “Breaking News” blog reports (11/26). “UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado said the most urgent risks to children are those related to safe water and malnutrition, with malnutrition rates in the affected areas already found to be high before the floods began,” according to the U.N. News Centre (11/25).
Jason Nickerson, a respiratory therapist and doctoral candidate in Population Health at the University of Ottawa, in this Global Health Hub post, recounts recent controversy surrounding “the health and humanitarian response to the earthquake and cholera outbreaks” in Haiti, noting tension “between the provision of [a cholera] vaccine as opposed to spending…
In this CNN opinion piece, Jenna Davis — a faculty member in Stanford University’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, where her research and teaching focuses on water, sanitation and health, and a former member of the U.N. Millennium Task Force for Water and Sanitation — reports on what she calls a “global sanitation crisis,” writing, “More than 40 percent of the world’s population does not have access to a toilet. These 2.6 billion people, most living in low- and middle-income countries in Asia and Africa, face the daily challenge of finding a bush, train track or empty lot where they can urinate and defecate in relative privacy.”
“The United Nations independent expert on access to water and sanitation as a human right [on Saturday] urged States to allocate more resources to improving sanitation and promote efficient use of existing hygiene facilities, stressing that people are entitled to decent toilets,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “‘Lack of sanitation implies the loss of millions of school and work days as well as enormous health costs,’ said Catarina de Albuquerque, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, in a statement to mark the World Toilet Day, which is observed on 19 November each year,” the news service writes (11/19).
Inter Press Service examines how doctors and aid workers in and around Mogadishu, Somalia, “are warning that famine victims in internally displaced camps have become vulnerable to contagious diseases like cholera and measles, as conditions here are ripe for an outbreak.” Sanitation and access to food and drinking water are the greatest concerns, IPS reports, adding that “[w]hile international aid continues to be delivered to Somalia, relief efforts at some camps have dwindled or stopped.” The news service writes, “The Somali government’s Mogadishu spokesman Mohamed Abdullahi Arig told IPS that the government needed help to prevent a possible cholera outbreak and to prevent other communicable diseases from spreading in the camps. ‘The government is more vigilant, but our capacity is too little. We need the international community’s assistance in this sector,’ Arig said” (Abokar, 11/17).
“Health authorities say 207 cases of typhoid are being treated in Zimbabwe’s capital after a prolonged spell of unusually hot weather amid acute water shortages,” the Associated Press/Seattle Times reports. Prosper Chonzi, Harare city council health director, “said Tuesday the disease will be difficult to contain in impoverished townships relying on water from shallow, makeshift wells and marshlands,” and that “humanitarian agencies have been asked to help provide clean water,” the news service writes.