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Success And Failure In Fighting Cholera In Haiti

“Almost two years after the deadly disease first appeared in Haiti in the aftermath of the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, the story of cholera is one of both success and failure,” columnist Catherine Porter writes in a Toronto Star opinion piece. She says though progress has been made in bringing down the death rate from cholera, educating the population on prevention, and getting people with the disease into treatment more quickly, aid agencies’ funding has “dried up and most have ended their cholera programs.” She continues, “In most instances, the Haitian government has not picked up the work that had been done by departing aid agencies. … For its part, the Haitian government has focused on surveillance and prevention — plastering the city with posters about hand-washing and disinfecting water.”

“One year before cholera appeared in Haiti, there were around 221,000 reported cases and 4,950 deaths to cholera globally, according to the World Health Organization. In less than two years, little Haiti has seen more than 586,000 cases and 7,500 deaths to cholera,” Porter notes. She describes efforts to vaccinate a small percentage of the population and the construction of state-of-the-art waste water treatment plants. “On the second anniversary of the earthquake, the World Health Organization launched a campaign to eliminate cholera from both Haiti and neighboring Dominican Republic over the next decade,” she states, continuing, “WHO Regional Deputy Director Jon Andrus puts the cost at $2.4 billion — less than half the amount pledged to Haiti in aid money after the earthquake, most of which is still undelivered, he points out” (9/8).