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Haiti Cholera Epidemic Continues to Soak up Supplies & Money

Haiti cholera epidemic continues to soak up people, supplies and money

Dec1 2010: UNICEF is taking strong action in Haiti, expanding its field-staff by more than sixty people, as the cholera epidemic worsens, and the country continues to be in a state of unease.

Over the election week-end information from the field reported that health services remained operational, albeit at a slower pace in some areas.

UNICEF continues to fly in supplies to the troubled island state. Two charter planes have arrived in the past week, with nearly two hundred tonnes of emergency supplies, for the prevention and treatment of water-born diseases.

Meanwhile the number of cholera cases is increasing. The number of deaths from cholera has risen to 1,721 and Haiti continues to face a silent escalation, with 20 to 40 deaths reported on a daily basis and between 900 and 1,100 hospitalisations every day.

In only six weeks this represents more than forty percent of the death toll over August 2008 through July 2009 in Zimbabwe’s recent cholera outbreak.

Firing of automatic weapons outside some polling booths (on Nov 28) had also been reported, although there were no reports of injury.

Meanwhile the epidemic is still spreading in some places. New areas of contamination in Artibonite were reported in the commune of Saint Michel de l’Attalaye and Gros Morne (upper Artibonite), with cases in Lalomas, Platon Lalorme, Marmont and Penduis.

Despite UNICEF’s increased field staff numbers, and supplies, the situation in the North west continues to deteriorate, with increasing needs and still too few actors present to manage the caseload of cholera patients

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In Port Au Prince the epidemic, so far, is relatively under control. But children who are being treated for cholera also have to be fed.

“Overall, the situation in Haiti looks chaotic. With Haiti’s inadequate infrastructure, combined with people still living in camps post earthquake, it is far from an ideal place to work,” said Dennis McKinlay, executive director UNICEF New Zealand.

“With rioting about the cholera epidemic, combined with civil disorder as the election built up, Haiti is a very difficult place for people to do their job of trying to save lives.”

“But aid workers are pushing on with their work, nevertheless. UNICEF is ramping up its staff and sending in more supplies in a well organised programme to control the cholera epidemic.”

“It’s important to remember that the women and children who are dying of cholera are totally innocent.”

“People have been very generous in giving to Haiti. It’s a situation where UNICEF will continually need funds in the well organised campaign to control and minimise the spread of the epidemic,” he said.

ENDS

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