UN Asks for Funds to Fight Cholera

The United Nations has appealed for $164 million to tackle an outbreak of cholera in Haiti.

It is worried that without the money, the epidemic may run out of control.

Cholera has now reached the capital Port-au-Prince and infection rates are continuing to rise.

The capital houses 1.5 million people who lost their homes in January’s earthquake. Up to 11,000 cases have been reported in the last month, with almost 800 of them fatal.

Gregory Hartl from the World Health Organisation says the death rate is unusually high.

“There are probably several reasons for why it’s higher than normal. One of the big challenges is trying to get into communities with the necessary self-help messages,” he said.

“Perhaps in addition, no-one alive in Haiti has experienced cholera before, so it’s a population that’s very susceptible to the bacteria.”

The UN is now planning for 200,000 people with cholera symptoms over the next six to 12 months, double the number of cases during Zimbabwe’s cholera outbreak two years ago.

The big fear is that the disease could spread to the makeshift camps around Port au Prince.

Stephanie Bunker of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has a number of concerns.

“We are hoping that donors around the world are going to… dip into their pockets, even though it’s late in the year, and help us save the lives of people threatened by this disease,” she said.

“A lot of what we’re looking at are water and sanitation type of projects because of a cholera epidemic. So we’re looking at giving people more access to safe water, especially high risk areas.”