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Also In Global Health News: Infectious Disease; Aid Money Needed For Afghanistan, Haiti; Increasing Rice Production; Family Planning In Rwanda

Species Extinction Could Lead Humans To Become More Vulnerable To Infectious Diseases “[T]he loss of biodiversity may make humans more vulnerable to infectious diseases,” according to a review article published Thursday in the journal Nature, VOA News reports (DeCapua, 12/6). “The review analyses studies of 12 diseases, including West Nile…

Haiti Requires Additional Trained Nurses, Doctors To Address Cholera Epidemic, U.N. Official Says

Haiti needs about 1,000 additional trained nurses and at least 100 more physicians to control the cholera epidemic, Valerie Amos, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said during a recent visit to the capital of Port-au-Prince, Reuters reports. “We clearly need to do more,” Amos said of the global response to the cholera outbreak. “But it’s not just money, it’s crucially people, in terms of getting more doctors, nurses, more people who can help with the awareness-raising and getting information out there,” she said. The U.N. plans to work with countries and aid groups that have the capacity to quickly provide more health workers, according to Amos.

Cholera Case Confirmed In Dominican Republic; Haitian Protestors Blame U.N. Peacekeeping Troops For Cholera Outbreak

Officials on Tuesday said they had confirmed the first case of cholera in Haiti’s neighbor, the Dominican Republic, the Associated Press/Forbes reports (11/16). Bautista Rojas, the Dominican health minister, said the patient is a 32-year-old Haitian construction worker who recently returned from Haiti, the BBC reports. The patient is receiving treatment in isolation in the eastern town of Higuey, Rojas said (11/16).

Sierra Leone Cholera Outbreak Continues To Spread

“Sierra Leone’s health ministry said Thursday that deaths from a cholera outbreak had reached 220, affecting over 12,000 people in the west African nation, which is struggling to curb the disease,” Agence France-Presse reports. “‘Some 12,140 people are affected nationwide in 10 of 12 districts,’ the health ministry’s director of disease prevention and control, Amara Jambai, told journalists, saying the figure included cases recorded up to Wednesday,” the news service writes (8/23). “Early rains together with increasing overcrowding in cities such as the Sierra Leonian capital Freetown have pushed the number of reported cases … well past the previous record of 10,000 in 1994,” Reuters notes.

WHO Calls For Emergency Stockpile Of Cholera Vaccine

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for the establishment of a global stockpile of the cholera vaccine to respond to outbreaks like the one that has gripped Haiti since an earthquake hit the country in 2010, NPR’s “Shots” reports (Knox, 8/17). “On Thursday, experts meeting in Washington endorsed the use of the vaccine to control the continuing outbreak in Haiti and the Dominican Republic,” the New York Times writes, adding, “Studies conducted by medical charities there showed that up to 90 percent of people who had received one dose of the vaccine returned for a second dose and were therefore protected” (McNeil, 8/17). “The WHO’s technical advisers cited the recent Haiti vaccination project, involving 100,000 people in Port-au-Prince and a rural area, as evidence that cholera vaccination can work in the midst of an outbreak,” “Shots” notes. According to the blog, “the WHO is seeking funds to launch the stockpile, which would initially contain enough doses to vaccinate a million people and cost $10 million a year to maintain” (8/17).

Changing Behavior In Haiti To Prevent Cholera Poses Challenges

Noting that several organizations recently have closed or consolidated their cholera treatment centers in Haiti, Jason Hayes with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting writes in an opinion analysis in the Huffington Post Blog, “In order to stop cholera, a water-borne illness, you need to change the ways people interact with water. It is no easy task.” Despite massive education campaigns to distribute information on how to prevent cholera, including hand washing and water treatment, and reports showing that “Haitians hungrily internalized the information,” “there is often an appalling gap between knowledge and action,” and the number of cases began to rise again in the early summer of 2011.

Cholera Affecting Refugees In Eastern Congo, MSF Reports

“The first case of cholera has emerged among thousands of people in an impromptu refugee camp in eastern Congo who fled fighting between a new rebel group and government forces backed by U.N. peacekeepers,” according to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the Associated Press/Washington Post reports (Muhumuza, 8/3). The first case was detected on Friday, and since then at least nine people have died of the disease, MSF said, according to Al Jazeera (8/5).

Haitian Cholera Vaccination Pilot Project Temporarily Postponed, NPR Reports

“A long-planned project to find out whether vaccination is feasible in the midst of an ongoing cholera outbreak in Haiti has been stymied — temporarily, its proponents insist –” after “a Port-au-Prince radio station reported that the impending vaccination effort was actually a ‘medical experiment on the Haitian people’ — a potentially incendiary charge,” NPR’s health blog “Shots” reports.

Lack Of Aid Money In Haiti Threatening Health, Human Rights Of Displaced People, U.N. Official Warns

“The United Nations warned on Tuesday that a lack of aid money for Haiti was putting hundreds of thousands of displaced people at risk by forcing humanitarian agencies to cut services in one of the world’s poorest countries,” Reuters reports. Noting Haiti only received half of the $382 million aid request in 2011 and so far has received only 10 percent of this year’s $231 million appeal, Nigel Fisher, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Haiti, said, “(Underfunding) threatens to reverse gains achieved in the fight against cholera through the promotion of sanitary and hygiene practices. … It threatens the very existence of hundreds of thousands of (displaced people) living in camps,” according to the news agency. “Fisher said the humanitarian community was urgently requesting $53.9 million for the April-June period to protect those living in camps and to continue to provide services such as clean water, food and crime prevention and respond to cholera outbreaks, among other things,” Reuters writes (Nichols, 3/27).