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Rainy Season In Haiti Brings Warnings Of Possible Cholera Resurgence

As the rainy season threatens to begin in Haiti, health care professionals and relief workers are warning of “the risk of a renewed cholera epidemic that first struck in October 2011,” Fox News reports. “[E]very rainy season, the number of cases spikes, as polluted water levels rise in a country that is already desperately short of safe drinking water and disinfectant supplies,” the news service writes, noting, “More than 656,000 people have been infected, and 8,090 died of water-borne cholera as of March 31, according to the Haitian health ministry.” Fox News continues, “Yet even as the risk of new infection grows, short-term medical treatment funds have been evaporating, and health care workers leaving, while the desperately poor Caribbean country still struggles to recover from the horrific earthquake of January 2010, which killed more than 158,000 people.”

Some humanitarian workers “put part of the blame for the shaky health situation on a $2.2 billion U.N. funding drive for a 10-year cholera eradication program, launched with considerable fanfare by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last December, but which in financial terms has barely managed to get off the ground,” Fox News writes. Many believe the cholera outbreak was caused by U.N. peacekeepers importing the infection into the country, the news service notes. “According to a U.N. spokesman, the world organization has allocated $23.5 million to the effort, which aims at creating safer water facilities, sanitation facilities and other forms of community hygiene to bring the disease, which had not appeared in Haiti in a century, under control,” the news service writes, adding, “As of early May, only about $17.7 million has been committed to various programs.” The article includes quotes from Duncan McLean, a health program manager for Médecins Sans Frontières; Rishi Rattan, advocacy chair for Physicians For Haiti, which recently “issued a ‘report card’ on the U.N.’s implementation of recommendations made by its own independent panel of experts in a May 2011 report on ways to combat epidemic”; and U.N. spokesperson Martin Nesirky (Russell, 5/23).