Deepening cholera epidemic prompts UN plea for $164 million

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Nov 12, 2010 (CIDRAP News) – The number of new cholera cases and deaths in Haiti has climbed steeply, even in remote areas, amid a plea today from the United Nations (UN) for $164 million in foreign assistance to help control the spread of the disease.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said yesterday that Haiti's health ministry has received reports of 11,125 hospital admissions and 724 deaths, reflecting an illness increase of almost 3,000 and a fatality increase of 180 since the group's last update on Nov 8. Cholera infections have been detected in six of the country's 10 departments, which is one more than listed in the previous update.

In the country's capital, Port-au-Prince, where the disease was recently detected for the first time, officials have received reports of 278 cholera hospitalization and 10 deaths.

PAHO said it was concerned about the outbreaks in rural areas, which have fewer resources to manage the outbreak. Health organizations are setting up 10 new cholera treatment centers, adding to eight that have already been set up in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas.

The UN said in a press release that officials expect up to 200,000 cholera cases over the next 6 to 12 months to be reported in Haiti, a country that was devastated by an earthquake in January and was struck by flooding from Hurricane Tomas last week.

Nigel Fisher, the UN's humanitarian coordinator in Haiti, said in the press release that, without a massive influx of funding, the epidemic could outrun current response efforts. "A major effort has already been made, but the sheer quantity of relief items that need to be delivered in the days and weeks ahead is going to require more logistical and financial support for the Government by all humanitarian agencies and donors and very close coordination," he said.

The UN said most of the $164 million appeal would be used for water, sanitation, and hygiene, with $43 million earmarked for health and $19 million for earthquake refugee camps.

See also:

Nov 11 PAHO update

Nov 12 UN press release

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