Accountability Lacking For Cholera Outbreak In Haiti

In a Foreign Policy opinion piece, former Associated Press reporter Jonathan Katz recounts his experience in Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake and during the October 2010 outbreak of cholera. In the piece, adapted from a book he authored, Katz describes his investigation into how and where cholera was introduced to Haiti, which had not had a case of the disease in more than 100 years. He says after it was discovered that Nepalese peacekeepers brought the disease to the country and careless waste disposal had introduced the cholera bacteria into the water supply, “The U.N. and its allies went on the defense. … If the U.N. were discovered to have caused the epidemic in Haiti, its credibility would be catastrophically compromised — Haitian lives destroyed by the very people sent to protect them.”

“Authorities defended their refusal to investigate the origin of the outbreak on grounds that pursuing the source would detract from fighting the epidemic,” but “[b]y refusing to take the concerns seriously, investigators would cede inquiry to the very agitators and xenophobes they feared,” Katz writes. “In two years, more than 7,800 Haitians have died of cholera,” he notes, concluding, “The United Nations has made grandiose, if seemingly empty, promises to fight and eradicate the disease, but refuses to consider its own accountability in starting the epidemic. Aid workers and donor governments have lost a critical opportunity — to demonstrate that they took Haitian lives and welfare as seriously as their own” (1/10).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

KFF Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270 | Email Alerts: | |

The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.