U.N. Must Do More To Fight Cholera In Haiti
Noting U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week cited diplomatic immunity in “reject[ing] a legal claim for compensation filed in 2011 on behalf of cholera victims in Haiti,” Louise Ivers, a senior health and policy adviser at Partners In Health, writes in a New York Times opinion piece, “Regardless of the merits of this argument, the United Nations has a moral, if not legal, obligation to help solve a crisis it inadvertently helped start.” She continues, “The evidence shows that the United Nations was largely, though not wholly, responsible for an outbreak of cholera that has subsequently killed some 8,000 Haitians and sickened 646,000 more since October 2010. The United Nations has not acknowledged its culpability.” She states, “The United Nations should immediately increase its financial support for the Haitian government’s efforts to control the epidemic.”
“The United Nations recently started a 10-year initiative to eliminate cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, based on a plan that was developed with multiple partners, including the governments of both countries,” Ivers notes, adding, “On Feb. 27, Haiti’s minister of health will introduce one important component of this plan — an initiative to expand access to cholera vaccination.” She says, “If the United Nations were to finance this initiative, along with the rest of the government’s anti-cholera program, it could have a significant and immediate impact on stemming this epidemic. As of now, however, the United Nations plans to contribute just one percent of the cost. That is not enough.” Ivers concludes, “It’s time for the United Nations to rethink what true stabilization could be: preventing people from dying of a grueling, painful — and wholly preventable — disease is a good start” (2/22).