mercredi 25 mai 2011

Help for Haiti Brings Cholera Instead

About 10 months after the 7.0 magnitude hit Haiti in 2010, the country was stricken with a cholera outbreak that killed nearly 5,000 people. There were more people who were killed in the violence that spread due to the outbreak than were killed in the actual Earthquake.
The Cholera outbreak sparked “witch hunts” throughout the country, which resulted in the deaths of at least a dozen people. Also, violent protests and riots broke out.
At the time, many Haitians believed that the U.N. caused the epidemic. Then, the U.N. denied the accusation. However, it has been reported that the U.N. is now taking partial responsibility for the outbreak.
The U.N. has conceded and states that the 2010 Cholera outbreak in Haiti was caused by Nepalese peace-keepers stationed in the country after the earthquakes. Though many people suspected that these peace-keepers were the cause, the U.N. originally denied those accusations until recently.
The U.N. now accepts some responsibility for the outbreak due to the information found in one of their own reports. It seems that a panel concluded that Nepalese camps were “not sufficient to prevent fecal contamination” of the river.
The U.N. also stated that it should be common procedure to immunize any U.N. peace-keepers traveling from and to cholera-affected locations. To further protect from another outbreak, camps should also chemically treat their waste.
However, what is really interesting about this concession is that the U.N. is putting some responsibility back onto Haiti. The U.N. report states:
“The introduction of this cholera strain as a result of environmental contamination with feces could not have been the source of such an outbreak without simultaneous water and sanitation and health care system deficiencies.”
Essentially, the U.N. was saying that Haiti was partially at fault because the outbreak would not have escalated to the point that it did if the Haitian government had supplied its own people with clean water and better hospitals. Nevermind that the entire country had just suffered a 7.0 earthquake.
Clean drinking water and better health care is always a good thing. However, it is somewhat careless for the U.N. to put this blame back onto Haiti.
The U.N. brought the disease into the country. Prior to the arrival of the Nepalese peace-keepers, there was no outbreak of cholera in Haiti for more than a century.
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