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Cholera In Congo Has Killed 279, Infected More Than 4,000 People

“A UNICEF official says a cholera outbreak in Congo has killed 279 people and infected more than 4,000 others in the last four months,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports (7/27). According to the VOA’s “Breaking News” blog, “[a] cholera outbreak has been declared in four provinces with northeastern Orientale province showing the most cases.” The WHO last week expressed concern that the disease could spread along the Congo River, according to the blog (7/27).

U.N. Officials Reiterate Clean Drinking Water And Sanitation Are Human Rights Issues

One year after the U.N. General Assembly “adopted a resolution declaring that safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right,” top U.N. officials on Wednesday “stressed the need to realize the human right to water and sanitation, stating that it is critical not only to a life of dignity but also to achieving progress in the areas such as poverty reduction, boosting child health and combating diseases,” the U.N. News Centre reports (7/27). Nearly 900 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water, and more than one million children die each year because of diseases such as cholera that are transmitted by contaminated water, Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C notes (Krafczyk, 7/27).

Haitian Cholera Epidemic Worsening With Start Of Rainy Season

According to the Haitian government, more than 5,800 people have died of cholera since the epidemic began in October, and health care workers have seen an increase in cases “[w]ith the rainy season now in progress,” the Los Angeles Times reports (Gaestel, 7/24).

Rwandan Government Pushing For Sanitation Facilities In Every Household

Rwanda “is one of only four countries in Africa which look set to achieve Millennium Development Goal 7 to ensure environmental sustainability, which includes halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation,” Inter Press Service reports in an article examining hygiene and sanitation in the country. The other three countries are Mozambique, Ghana and Sierra Leone, the news service notes.

Device That Collects Water Quality Data Introduced At TEDGlobal Conference

Researchers at the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, this week described a device that collects water quality data to “chec[k] supplies in real-time, alerting users to possible infections,” and “upload[s] the data, allowing scientists to monitor the location and movement of outbreaks,” BBC News reports. The researchers said the device, called the Water Canary, “could prove invaluable for governments around the world keen to contain disease and environmental disasters,” according to the news service (Wakefield, 7/13).

USAID, NSF Launch Science Research Grant Program To Support Development Goals

USAID and the National Science Foundation (NSF) on Thursday launched the Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) initiative to “provide grants to developing world partners of NSF U.S. grantees,” with the goal of supporting “applied research – science in support of development – in areas of global concern such as climate change, biodiversity, water issues, agriculture, seismic hazards and deforestation,” SciDev.Net reports (Tatalovic, 7/8).

U.N. Report Shows Significant Progress Toward Reaching MDGs, But Mixed Results In Some Areas

Significant progress is being made toward reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 deadline, but the poorest countries are not progressing as quickly and more must be done to improve health and development outcomes in those nations, according to this year’s MDG report (.pdf), VOA News reports. “Despite the global economic downturn and the food and energy crises, we are on track to meet the MDG targets for poverty-reduction,” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at the launch of the report on Thursday in Geneva (Schlein, 7/7).

‘Exact Correlation’ Between Peacekeeper Arrival And Cholera Outbreak In Haiti, Study Says

“Evidence ‘strongly suggests’ that a United Nations peacekeeping mission brought a cholera strain to Haiti that has killed thousands of people,” according to a study conducted by a team of epidemiologists and physicians and published in the July issue of the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, the Associated Press reports. The Haitian government has recorded more than 363,000 cases of cholera more than 5,500 deaths since the outbreak began in October.

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