Cholera disease still kills dozens a month in Haiti
March 3, Port-au-Prince: Cholera has sickened more than 770,000 people, or about seven percent of the population, and killed more than 9,200 in Haiti since the disease arrived in 2010. It has sickened more than 6,000 and is killing an average of 37 people a month in 2016.
A dozen people reclined on cots inside the clinic in the country’s capital, a few so sick they were receiving intravenous infusions to rehydrate their bodies and spare them an agonizing death.
The persistence of the preventable disease has alarmed public health experts who fear that attention and resources have been diverted by newer challenges, including the regional spread of the Zika virus and the political crisis that recently halted Haiti's elections, reports said.
Dr. Joseph Donald Francois, who coordinates the health ministry's efforts to combat the illness, believes Haiti, with international help, can eliminate cholera by 2022. But he acknowledged the effort is badly underfinanced.
Only $307 million, or less than 14 percent, has been funded of a $2.2 billion plan announced in 2013 to eradicate cholera from the island shared by
Haiti and the Dominican Republic over a decade, according to a November report from the U.N.
In the first year of the outbreak, more than 200 international organizations were providing money and expertise to combat the illness in Haiti. Now, there are fewer than a dozen, Francois said.
Cholera was first detected in central Haiti's Artibonite Valley. Researchers say there is ample evidence the disease was introduced to the country's biggest river by inadequately treated sewage from a base of U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal, one of the units that have rotated in and out of a multinational force in Haiti since 2004.
Victims' advocates have sued the U.N. in the United States. A federal judge ruled last year that the international organization was immune from a lawsuit seeking compensation. The U.S. Court of Appeals this week heard arguments for the plaintiffs challenging the U.N. immunity claim. A decision is not expected for months.
Cholera showed up 10 months after a devastating earthquake in the south of Haiti, deepening the country's misery at a time when it was ill-equipped to cope with a second crisis.
New research published this month by the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention suggests cholera's death toll in Haiti could have been significantly higher due to inadequate reporting early in the outbreak.
The Oslo Times