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Home Publications Blogs Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch Disease Outbreak in Haiti, Possibly Just Beginning, as Money Goes Unspent and Shelters Remain Unbuilt

Disease Outbreak in Haiti, Possibly Just Beginning, as Money Goes Unspent and Shelters Remain Unbuilt

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Thursday, 21 October 2010 12:26
In the aftermath of the earthquake many warned that with well over a million people living in makeshift IDP camps a second wave of the disaster was possible because of the  potential for deaths caused by flooding or disease outbreaks. Fortunately, widespread disease outbreaks haven't materialized and Haiti has been spared a direct hit during the current Hurricane season. However, some 10 months after the quake, there are signs that the second wave may be coming.

On Tuesday officials reported that at least 10 people had been killed in flooding over the previous three days due to heavy rain and today the AP, AFP and BBC are reporting on an outbreak of disease. Although the outbreak is outside of Port-au-Prince, AFP reports that at least 50 have died after suffering what the BBC reports as "acute fever, vomiting and diarrhoea."  The Associated Press adds that most of the deaths are "reportedly children." The AP continues:
Hundreds of patients reporting those symptoms have overwhelmed a hospital in the seaside town of St. Marc, some 45 miles (about 70 kilometres) north of the capital of Port-au-Prince, Catherine Huck, country deputy for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told The Associated Press.

It remains unclear if the cases are linked. U.N. and Haitian health care workers are running tests for cholera, typhoid and other diseases, with results possible on Thursday, said OCHA-Haiti spokeswoman Jessica DuPlessis.
The outbreak of disease and deadly flooding should bring to the forefront the issues surrounding shelter and sanitation, also highlighted by Walter Kaelin, UN Representative on the Human Rights of the Internally Displaced. On Tuesday Kaelin commented that “Nine months after the earthquake, Haiti is still living through a profound humanitarian crisis that affects the human rights of those displaced by the disaster,” adding:
“This is a humanitarian crisis that needs a development solution. In line with its primary responsibility, the Government of Haiti needs to endorse and communicate publicly a plan on how to provide durable solutions for those in the camps and to inform and consult with the displaced on its implementation.

“In the meanwhile, if development donors ensure flexible, early recovery orientated funding arrangements, smaller-scale neighbourhood reconstruction can get underway and provide much needed hope,” noted Kaelin while urging humanitarian donors to continue funding humanitarian assistance and protection activities as long as no substantial progress towards durable solutions is made.
Despite billions of dollars in charitable donations and lofty pledges from foreign governments, over 1.3 million Haitians remain living in fraying plastic tarps. Meanwhile, only about 18,000 of the planned 128,000 transitional shelters have been built and rubble removal continues to move at a snail's pace.



 

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