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International Community Must Continue To Support Cholera Treatment, Prevention In Haiti

Since its arrival in Haiti two years ago, “cholera has sickened more than 600,000 people and killed more than 7,500,” and “[t]his year the epidemic is on track to be among the world’s worst again, with nearly 77,000 cases and 550 deaths, according to the Haitian Ministry of Health,” Ralph Ternier and Cate Oswald of Zanmi Lasante/Partners in Health in Haiti write in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “Despite the decrease in cases from 2011, every new case represents an unnecessary and preventable infection and an even further potential of completely preventable and unnecessary death in hardest-to-reach areas,” they state. Though a “multi-pronged approach” to treating and preventing cholera has significantly decreased the number of cases, “[t]he sad reality is that … we know that cholera is not going away, [yet] emergency funding for cholera is,” they write.

“If we continue treating cases at the rate we are now, our dedicated cholera funding will be gone in a few short months, and we have no new funds on the horizon,” Ternier and Oswald write, adding, “And we’re one of a shrinking number of medical organizations partnering with the Haitian Ministry of Health to continue to provide prevention and treatment for cholera.” They continue, “We’ll be blunt: The loss of funding means that in months, thousands of patients — people we have the tools, skills, and expertise to save — will become sick, and hundreds more may needlessly die. This wouldn’t be accepted in a wealthy country. And we’re not willing to accept it in Haiti.” Ternier and Oswald conclude, “We need the ongoing support of the international community, now more than ever, to help us advocate for continued investments in water and sanitation infrastructure and for more accessible high quality health care options, especially for the rural poor” (11/6).

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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.