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International Health Groups Ally To Fight Cholera In Haiti; Officials Emphasize Need For Sanitation Infrastructure

“Unless steps are taken to eliminate cholera from Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic, the disease will likely resurge and could even spread to other parts of the Caribbean, international health officials said Wednesday,” CQ HealthBeat reports (Bristol, 1/11). Officials from the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), UNICEF and the CDC “said they would join with the Haitian and Dominican governments to develop a plan to eradicate cholera from the island the two countries share by extending clean water and sanitation to stricken areas,” Reuters writes, adding, “The effort faces a daunting financial challenge if it is to meet a goal of reaching at least two-thirds of the Haitian population by 2015, a task that could cost $1.1 billion” (Morgan, 1/12).

“Health experts say that beyond life-saving interventions such as cholera clinics, chlorine pills and oral rehydration salts, there is a dire need to rebuild Haiti’s infrastructure — especially water and sewer systems,” VOA News notes (Sinha, 1/11). Speaking at a U.N.-organized briefing on Wednesday, PAHO Director Mirta Roses “emphasized that the costs of not investing in these services is much higher as evidenced by the thousands of people who have died in Haiti since the cholera outbreak in October 2010, 10 months after it was hit by a devastating earthquake,” according to the U.N. News Centre (1/11). Scientific American reports on the debate about whether the cholera vaccine “can help in the long-term fight for better health” (Harmon, 1/12).

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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.