OCHA Operations Director John Ging visits a Cholera Treatment Center run by MSF in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area on 20 May. Credit: OCHA
Humanitarian partners in Haiti are bracing for an increase in new cases of cholera as the hurricane season gets underway. According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), heavy rains and flooding could contaminate water sources and trigger a surge of up to 4,000 new cholera cases per week in the coming months. At the same time, funding for programmes to control the disease and treat the sick is running out.
“It is unacceptable that lives are being lost to cholera because last year’s capacity building in the areas of response and prevention were lost due to a lack of funding,” said OCHA Director of Operations John Ging after a three-day visit to Haiti in May. He stressed the urgency for more commitment by donors.
The US$230.5 million Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP)
for Haiti is the second least funded appeal in the world. Critical sectors including health, water and sanitation have received less than 20 per cent of required funding.
During Mr. Ging´s visit to a cholera treatment center run by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in the Martissant neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince, aid workers expressed grave concerns about this year’s epidemic, which has already infected 27,503 people, 208 of whom have died.
The World Health Organization
and PAHO have warned that up to 250,000 people could contract the disease this year, and that the majority will be sick during the rainy and hurricane seasons, which last until the end of November.
During his visit, Mr. Ging also met Haiti’s Minister of Health, Dr. Florence Duperval Guillaume, who outlined the government’s plan for a more sustainable approach to cholera and healthcare. Improving the appalling conditions of hundreds of thousands of people who lack potable water and basic sanitation was highlighted as the most urgent priority in the effort to prevent further outbreaks of disease.
Representatives of donor countries acknowledged during a meeting with Mr. Ging that much progress had been made but agreed that the cholera epidemic and the plight of the Haitians still living in camps must motivate everyone to improve current conditions.
“Having saved their lives after the earthquake, it is urgent to help rebuild livelihoods,” Mr. Ging concluded.
Reporting by OCHA Haiti