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Donors Flee Financing Cholera Fight in Haiti

This is a very sad state of affairs, when Haitian citizens still suffer fro Cholera, but the world has largely washed their hands of the country.

This largely has to do with the frustration with corrupt or misguided Haitian Government officials who have stymied nearly every effort to help the country. And no, that doesn’t mean the UN’s hands are clean.

After Bringing Cholera to Haiti, U.N. Can’t Raise Money to Fight It

When the leader of the United Nations apologized to Haitians for the cholera epidemic that has ravaged their country for more than six years — caused by infected peacekeepers sent to protect them — he proclaimed a “moral responsibility” to make things right.

The apology, announced in December along with a $400 million strategy to combat the epidemic and “provide material assistance and support” for victims, amounted to a rare public act of contrition by the United Nations. Under its secretary general at the time, Ban Ki-moon, the organization had resisted any acceptance of blame for the epidemic, one of the worst cholera outbreaks in modern times.

Since then, however, the United Nations’ strategy to fight the epidemic, which it calls the “New Approach,” has failed to gain traction. A trust fund created to help finance the strategy has only about $2 million, according to the latest data on its website. Just six of the 193 member states — Britain, Chile, France, India, Liechtenstein and South Korea — have donated.

Other countries have provided additional sources of anti-cholera funding for Haiti outside the trust fund, most notably Canada, at about $4.6 million, and Japan, at $2.6 million, according to the United Nations. Nonetheless, the totals received are a fraction of what Mr. Ban envisioned.

In a letter sent to member states last month, Mr. Ban’s successor, António Guterres, asked for financial commitments to the trust fund by March 6. He also appeared to raise the possibility of a mandatory dues assessment if there were no significant pledges.

The deadline came and went without much response.

Mr. Guterres has not stated publicly whether he intends to push for a mandatory assessment in the budget negotiations now underway at the United Nations. Privately, however, diplomats and United Nations officials said he had shelved the idea, partly because of strong resistance by some powerful members, including the United States.

Diplomats said part of the problem could be traced to simple donor fatigue, as well as to many countries’ reluctance to make financial commitments without certainty that the money will be used effectively.

 

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Posted by on March 20, 2017 in Haiti

 

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UN Finally Admits Role in Cholera Epidemic in Haiti

The whole truth of this, as I suspect a lot of things in the 3rd world, has never been admitted. Having been in Haiti working when the epidemic started, I think the numbers provided by the world press are off by 5 or more. Indeed, one person I know who was in position to say – put the number of dead the first two days at double the claimed total number today.

The Haitians figured out pretty quick where the cholera came from. A disease which Papa Doc had eliminated in the country. The UN promptly went into cover-up mode, even when it was found that the sewage trenches dug by their soldiers from Nepal were leaking directly into the river. And even after it was discovered by DWB that the strain of cholera was native to the Nepal region of Asia. Even when it was shown that those soldier hadn’t been screened for cholera and other infectuous diseases (which is a UN requirement) prior to deployment.

Haitian despise the UN’s Minustah which is their “Peacekeeping” Military force – and this is just one of the reasons.

U.N. Admits Role in Cholera Epidemic in Haiti

For the first time since a cholera epidemic believed to be imported by United Nations peacekeepers began killing thousands of Haitians nearly six years ago, the office of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has acknowledged that the United Nations played a role in the initial outbreak and that a “significant new set of U.N. actions” will be needed to respond to the crisis.

The deputy spokesman for the secretary general, Farhan Haq, said in an email this week that “over the past year, the U.N. has become convinced that it needs to do much more regarding its own involvement in the initial outbreak and the suffering of those affected by cholera.” He added that a “new response will be presented publicly within the next two months, once it has been fully elaborated, agreed with the Haitian authorities and discussed with member states.”

The statement comes on the heels of a confidential report sent to Mr. Ban by a longtime United Nations adviser on Aug. 8. Written by Philip Alston, a New York University law professor who serves as one of a few dozen experts, known as special rapporteurs, who advise the organization on human rights issues, the draft language stated plainly that the epidemic “would not have broken out but for the actions of the United Nations.”

The secretary general’s acknowledgment, by contrast, stopped short of saying that the United Nations specifically caused the epidemic. Nor does it indicate a change in the organization’s legal position that it is absolutely immune from legal actions, including a federal lawsuit brought in the United States on behalf of cholera victims seeking billions in damages stemming from the Haiti crisis.

But it represents a significant shift after more than five years of high-level denial of any involvement or responsibility of the United Nations in the outbreak, which has killed at least 10,000 people and sickened hundreds of thousands. Cholera victims suffer from dehydration caused by severediarrhea or vomiting.

Special rapporteurs’ reports are technically independent guidance, which the United Nations can accept or reject. United Nations officials have until the end of this week to respond to the report, which will then go through revisions, but the statement suggests a new receptivity to its criticism.

In the 19-page report, obtained from an official who had access to it, Mr. Alston took issue with the United Nations’ public handling of the outbreak, which was first documented in mid-October 2010, shortly after people living along the Meille River began dying from the disease.

The first victims lived near a base housing 454 United Nations peacekeepers freshly arrived from Nepal, where a cholera outbreak was underway, and waste from the base often leaked into the river. Numerous scientists have since argued that the base was the only plausible source of the outbreak — whose real death toll, one study found, could be much higher than the official numbers state — but United Nations officials have consistently insisted that its origins remain up for debate.

Mr. Alston wrote that the United Nations’ Haiti cholera policy “is morally unconscionable, legally indefensible and politically self-defeating.” He added, “It is also entirely unnecessary.” The organization’s continuing denial and refusal to make reparations to the victims, he argued, “upholds a double standard according to which the U.N. insists that member states respect human rights, while rejecting any such responsibility for itself.”

He said, “It provides highly combustible fuel for those who claim that U.N. peacekeeping operations trample on the rights of those being protected, and it undermines both the U.N.’s overall credibility and the integrity of the Office of the Secretary-General.”

Mr. Alston went beyond criticizing the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to blame the entire United Nations system. “As the magnitude of the disaster became known, key international officials carefully avoided acknowledging that the outbreak had resulted from discharges from the camp,” he noted.

His most severe criticism was reserved for the organization’s Office of Legal Affairs, whose advice, he wrote, “has been permitted to override all of the other considerations that militate so powerfully in favor of seeking a constructive and just solution.” Its interpretations, he said, have “trumped the rule of law.”

Mr. Alston also argued in his report that, as The New York Times hasreported, the United Nations’ cholera eradication program has failed. Infection rates have been rising every year in Haiti since 2014, as the organization struggles to raise the $2.27 billion it says is needed to eradicate the disease from member states. No major water or sanitation projects have been completed in Haiti; two pilot wastewater processing plants built there in the wake of the epidemic quickly closed because of a lack of donor funds.

In a separate internal report released days ago after being withheld for nearly a year, United Nations auditors said a quarter of the sites run by the peacekeepers with the organization’s Stabilization Mission in Haiti, or Minustah, that they had visited were still discharging their waste into public canals as late as 2014, four years after the epidemic began.

“Victims are living in fear because the disease is still out there,” Mario Joseph, a prominent Haitian human rights lawyer representing cholera victims, told demonstrators in Port-au-Prince last month. He added, “If the Nepalese contingent returns to defecate in the water again, they will get the disease again, only worse.”

In 2011, when families of 5,000 Haitian cholera victims petitioned the United Nations for redress, its Office of Legal Affairs simply declared their claims “not receivable.” (Mr. Alston called that argument “wholly unconvincing in legal terms.”)…More…

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2016 in Haiti

 

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Cholera still Claiming Lives in Haiti

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know that I worked in Haiti for almost two years after the earthquake in 2010. The first morning of the Cholera outbreak in the country I was on my way with a small group of experts to Arbonite to meet with some NGO officials relative to raising funds to build a trauma care Hospital in Port au Prince to replace the dilapidated hospital which had been destroyed in the earthquake. We were also working on the development of a waste processing facility for Port au Prince – as the city of over 3 million has no sewer plant or processing facility, and the open canals which carried sewage to the ocean seemed prime conspirators in the possible eventual emergence of Typhoid and Cholera.

When our little caravan got to the camp we were met by the National Chief of Police, who ordered us to turn back, explaining there had been a Cholera outbreak. This was shocking because the reason François Duvalier, the former Dictator of Haiti was loved by some of the populace and called ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier, was his work leading to the elimination of 6 diseases from the country, including Cholera. There hadn’t been a case of Cholera in the country to this point in over 50 years, and the government and population believed it eradicated. He walked two of us around to the side of the camp, where we could see the makeshift hospital set up by DWB. They were carrying bodies out the back in a steady stream. He claimed that nearly 2,000 people had died the previous night. Cholera can kill a healthy person in under 12 hours from being infected if untreated.

Cholera is fairly simple to treat, if you have the right materials. Within 24 hours, the NGOs were attempting to fly in “Cholera Kits” – which consist of bags of saline solution to keep the patient hydrated, and an intravenous antibiotic to kill the disease. The disease kills by dehydration. The procedure has about an 85-90% cure rate – if the patient reaches care in time. It was obvious the folks we were supposed to meet were too busy treating the sick for us to meet, so we took the long drive back to the city, to try and help facilitate the logistics of getting the kits into Haiti.

The locals immediately claimed that the source of the disease as a United Nations Military camp upstream from the refugee camp, followed by a series of denials by the UN. It indeed turned out that the source of the disease was the UN Camp, and latrines dug at the shore of the river which leaked into the river. Further, contrary to UN Policy, the soldiers from Nepal had not undergone medical testing for the possibility of carrying the disease.

Once the disease got a start, it fairly rapidly spread, By the end of 2011, when I left the country the medical people were still trying to figure out how it was spreading to seemingly distant and disconnected communities. The lack of sanitation, and pure water certainly has operated to spread the disease, as it can infect thousands when even a single person with the disease comes into a city.

Fresh water is a major problem. In many of the villages they drink from local streams, already polluted by people upstream

After the earthquake billions of dollars in aid were promised to Haiti. Most of that never materialized. The fault of that lies both in the Donor Organizations and Governments, as well as Haiti’s own politicians and Government.

Haiti’s Unstoppable Outbreak

The nation has been battling a cholera epidemic since 2010—and it’s still killing people. Why has no one been able to stop the spread of the disease?

In early February, when Jenniflore Abelard arrived at her parents’ house high in the hills of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, her father Johnson was home. (Some names have been changed to protect the privacy of patients and family members.) He was lying in the yard, under a tree, vomiting. When Jenniflore spoke to him, his responses, between retches, sounded strange: “nasal, like his voice was coming out of his nose.” He talked “like a zombie.” This is a powerful image to use in Haiti, where voodoo is practiced and where the supernatural doesn’t seem as far-fetched as it might elsewhere. Her father’s eyes were sunk back into his head. She was shocked, but she knew what this was, because she has lived through the past five years in Haiti. She has lived through the time of kolera.On October 18, 2010, Cuban medical brigades working in the areas around the town of Mirebalais (note: Mirebalais is located about 30 miles inland from PaP) in Haiti reported a worrying increase in patients with acute, watery diarrhea and vomiting. There had been 61 cases the previous week, and on October 18 alone there were 28 new admissions and two deaths.

 That was the beginning. Five years on, cholera has killed nearly 9,000 Haitians. More than 730,000 people have been infected. It is the worst outbreak of the disease, globally, in modern history. Hundreds of emergency and development workers have been working alongside the Haitian government for five years, trying to rid the country of cholera, and millions of dollars have been dispensed in the fight to eradicate it. But it’s still here. Why?

In 1884, the scientist Robert Koch sent a dispatch from Calcutta to the German Interior Ministry about the bacterium that he had been studying. It was “a little bent, like a comma,” he wrote. He was sure that this organism was causing the cholera that had been ravaging the world since 1817, when it laid waste to Bengal. Its onslaught there was shocking, even for a region that had had cholera—or something similar—for so long that there was a specific cholera goddess, Ola Beebee (translated as “our Lady of the Flux.”)

Ola Beebee was meant to protect against this mysterious affliction, which terrified people. Who would not be scared by seeing “the lips blue, the face haggard, the eyes hollow, the stomach sunk in, the limbs contracted and crumpled as if by fire?” Although 1817 is the official starting date of the first cholera pandemic, humans and cholera have almost certainly coexisted for far longer: That description of cholera’s distinct symptoms was inscribed on a temple in Gujarat, India, over 2,000 years ago.

The world is currently living through the seventh and longest cholera pandemic, which began in Indonesia in 1961 and, before Haiti, was most famous for an outbreak that devastated South America in 1991, killing 12,000 people in 21 countries.People with access to clean water and sanitation probably think of cholera as being as old-fashioned as smallpox, and long gone. Surely the problem now is Ebola? Away from headlines, though, the gram-negative, rod-shaped bacillusVibrio cholerae has been consistently murderous. It is currently present in 58 countries, infecting 3 to 5 million people a year and killing 100,000 to 120,000. This latest pandemic, wrote Edward T. Ryan of Harvard University, “as opposed to burning out after 5 to 20 years as all previous pandemics have done… seems to be picking up speed.”

 On February 11 this year, Johnson ate soup made from yams and bananas bought at the local market. By late afternoon, he was vomiting. With his soup he had swallowed Vibrio cholerae, which usually reach humans through contaminated food or water. Inside his body, the toxin secreted by the cholera bacteria bound to the cells in the wall of his small intestine, causing channels in the cells to stay open. Johnson’s disrupted cells flooded his gut with chloride ions. Sodium ions and water followed, causing his body to expel fluid and electrolytes and passing on more Vibrio bacteria to infect new hosts. A cholera victim can lose several liters of fluid within hours. Cholera can invade the body of a healthy person at daybreak and kill them by sundown.

Johnson is now safe and healthy in Jenniflore’s house, an hour away from his. He survived because he was taken to a nearby cholera-treatment center (CTC) run by Doctors Without Borders (DBW) and because cholera, despite its power, is easy to treat. Eighty percent of cholera cases are cured by the administration of a simple oral rehydration solution…(…more…)

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2015 in Haiti

 

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Cholera Strain in Haiti Confirmed To Come From SE Asia

This supports the accusations by Haitians that the cholera affecting the country came from United Nations troops stationed there. There is evidence that the UN Troops, or the contractors hired to handle their waste have been dumping it in unsafe locations – in the case of the initial outbreak, adjacent to the Arbonite River. It is also possible that one of the AID workers from that region is the source of the disease – but, in order for it to have infected the general population requires some connection between waste handling and human contact.

The dirty secret is that there is little love lost between Haitians and the United Nations Troops, so it isn’t surprising the UN Troops would be the first to get the blame.

The question now is, how is the disease spreading throughout the country so fast? There isn’t a significant amount of mobility by Haitians who live in the camps. Travel in Haiti is difficult, sometimes taking 4 or more hours to cover just a few miles. Cholera has infected at least 100,000 people in Haiti over the past seven weeks and killed more than 2,100. But that’s only a fraction of what health officials predict in coming months. It has shown up in isolated rural border areas between Haiti and the Dominican Republic suggesting that it has already spread to the Dominican Republic…

Sans some human vector, possibly intentional. possibly malfeasance – it is hard to see how the disease is spreading so rapidly all over the country.

Study Finds Haitian Cholera Strain Resembles One From South Asia, Carries Mutation That Increases Severity
A ten month old girl suffering cholera symptoms rests as she is treated at a clinic.

Was carelessness responsible for killing babies in Haiti?

“Detailed genetic tests confirm that the cholera strain that has killed more than 2,000 people in Haiti came from South Asia and most closely resembles a strain circulating in Bangladesh,” according to a study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), Reuters reports (12/9).

According to the research, “the South Asian cholera bacteria strain was probably introduced into Haiti by an infected human, contaminated food or another item brought to the island country after January’s devastating earthquake,” the Canadian Press/CTV News writes.

“Our evidence is extremely strong, based on the full genome sequence of two Haitian isolates as well as isolates from Latin America and South Asia,” said Matthew Waldor, the study’s lead researcher and an infectious disease specialist at Harvard Medical School. “There is almost sequence identity between the Haitian isolate and the isolate we sequenced from South Asia,” he said. “This is distinct from Latin America, and together those data suggest that this strain then didn’t wash up from the shores of Central or South America onto the shores of Haiti through some environmental event, but instead was transported most likely by a human from a South Asian nation to Haiti,” Waldor noted (12/9)…

They also found that this strain of Vibrio cholera produces a toxin that’s genetically identical to the toxin produced by an especially lethal strain of cholera that popped up in India four or five years ago.

That explains why the Haitian bug can kill so fast, says Dr. Matthew Waldor of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who led the research.

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2010 in Haiti

 

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Haiti protests spread to capital

A complex situation – just got more complex.

More than likely a lot of this is being driven by one or more political factions trying to gain some traction in the Haitian Election November 28th. It isn’t out of the question that at least one of those factions would love to find an excuse to cancel the election.

The second issue is the UN behaving badly. UN Troops aren’t necessarily the “Good guys”, and there have been a number of accusations circulated, and reports of abuse of Haitians, and Haitian children by UN Troops. These reports go back to 2006, even before the earthquake. And these sorts of things aren’t confined to just Haiti.  The UN isn’t viewed favorably for a number of other reasons, not the least of which is a penchant to want to take control, and attitude by some UN workers that the locals are too stupid to handle their own affairs without UN direction. I can’t say that is universal – but it doesn’t take a lot of bad apples to spoil the box.

Insofar as the accusation that UN troops have shot Haitians in the recent violence, and the cholera outbreak – that may or may not be true. The corrupt Haitian entity which has brought the country the worst kidnapping, torture, and murder since Papa Doc – isn’t beyond killing a few, or a few tens of thousands of their own people to stop the election and stay in power. The November 28 vote will choose a successor to President Rene Preval, who cannot be re-elected after serving two terms, a 99-member parliament and 11 members of the 30-seat Senate.
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Posted by on November 19, 2010 in News, The Post-Racial Life

 

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Haiti on the Edge

Been to Haiti several times now, working on various projects. Never seen anything like this, short of walking through a war zone. The Haitian people are an amazingly resilient group. Unfortunately, after 300 years of failure, much of it induced by larger, more powerful countries – there just aren’t any easy fixes.

The Cholera issue has been a disaster waiting to happen – sans any human malefactor, the tent cities are unsustainable. The earthquake which destroyed so many buildings didn’t do the creaky, antiquated, already overwhelmed infrastructure any favors. If you know what to look for driving down the street (not recommended for the faint of heart!) you will notice huge chunks of the core infrastructure are just…

Gone.

Whether storm drains, septic line, water mains, telecom facilities, or electric lines there are just huge missing chunks – some of which have been patched over with makeshift fixes which would make McGuyver proud by ever-inventive Haitians. The good news is that work crews are steadily removing the rubble. The bad news is that there isn’t anywhere to put it, and the roads system, designed for light commuter traffic now have potholes the size of Grand Canyon everywhere you go from the heavy trucks. Getting from place A to B is an adventure in spinal readjustment.

The even worse news is that sans the myriad of other problems – to fix these core infrastructure components takes years. Building a new septic plant, water treatment facility, underground distributions system, power plant(s), etc. aren’t things that, even if all the other problems went away and you could start tomorrow…

Could be done in a few months. Projects on that scale tend to take YEARS.

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2010 in Haiti

 

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