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Cholera Deaths In Haiti Top 900; U.N. Appeals For $164M To Deal With Outbreak That Could Affect 200,000

Haiti’s Health Ministry on Sunday said 917 cholera deaths had been reported in the country as of Friday and more than 14,600 people had been hospitalized, according to an update on the ministry’s website, Reuters reports. The disease has been detected in six of the country’s 10 provinces, according to the Health Ministry. “The central rural province of Artibonite, the epicenter of the epidemic, remained the worst affected, accounting for nearly 600 of the total deaths,” the news service writes. As of Nov. 12, authorities had recorded 27 deaths in the capital city of Port-au-Prince (11/14).

On Friday, the U.N. said up to 200,000 Haitians could contract cholera, Reuters reports. “That would be double the 100,000 cases during a huge cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe between August 2008 and July 2009, which killed 4,287 people. The U.N. forecast of the number of cases in Haiti was based partly on the Zimbabwe toll,” according to the news service (Nebehay, 11/13).

The U.N. on Friday also said it needs almost $164 million to deal with the cholera outbreak, Agence France-Presse reports. “We hope we can get this otherwise all our efforts will be overrun by the epidemic,” said Elisabeth Byrs, a spokesperson for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) (11/12).

“It was an appeal primarily to donor nations, but also to international and regional organizations. The [U.N. said] funds will be used by U.N. and non-governmental organizations to bring in additional doctors, medicines and water-purification equipment,” the Associated Press/MSNBC.com reports.

“No one alive in Haiti has experienced cholera before, so it’s a population which is very susceptible to the bacteria,” WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said in comments about the outbreak. “Cholera, now that it is in Haiti, probably the bacteria will be there for a number of years to come,” Hartl added (Jordans, 11/12).

“The cholera cases stream in at all hours of the day and night, turning sleepy rural medical clinics into emergency triage centres where the difference between life and death is measured in hours and millilitres of simple rehydration treatments,” the Globe and Mail writes in a piece examining how hospitals have been dealing with the outbreak (Perreaux, 11/14). Public Radio International’s The World interviews Columbia University’s Richard Garfield about the cholera outbreak in Haiti. Garfield has treated cholera in other parts of the world (Werman, 11/12).

In related news, CBS’ 60 Minutes reports on the cholera outbreak and the country’s overall recovery from the severe earthquake in January. Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive; David Walton of Partners In Health; former President Bill Clinton; Anton DeVries, a construction manager for ADRA, the development arm of the Seventh Day Adventists; and some Haitian citizens are interviewed (Pitts, 11/14).

Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal looks at why despite the generous global response to the earthquake, Haiti’s recovery has been full of challenges. “Donor countries like the U.S. have pledged nearly $10 billion to rebuild. Because donors have long been concerned about corruption in Haiti’s government, an estimated 70% of this year’s money will be channeled through charities, otherwise known as nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs. But as the past few months have made clear, there is little coordination among the NGOs or between the NGOs and Haitian officials,” the newspaper writes.

“There is now a growing debate over the role of NGOs in Haiti. Defenders of NGOs say there is no choice but to work through charities given the inefficiency and alleged corruption of Haiti’s government. … Critics say the NGOs have put Haiti in a Catch-22: By building a parallel state that is more powerful than Haiti’s own government, aid groups are ensuring Haiti never develops and remains dependent on charities” (De Cordoba, 11/12).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.