Heavy Rains Threaten to Bring More Cholera Cases; What to Do About It?
|Thursday, 04 August 2011 16:18|
Haiti may thankfully be spared the heavy impact of Tropical Storm Emily, as the storm seems to have weakened as it hit Hispaniola’s mountains. Health workers and others have been tracking the storm’s progress with trepidation, as it was heavy rains in June that led to a resurgence in cholera cases. Unfortunately, even a weakened storm may still bring strong rains, and more cholera. The PBS Newshour's Talea Miller reported yesterday:
But missing from the report was any mention of the role the U.S. government played in undermining Haiti’s provision of potable water. As described in great detail elsewhere, the U.S. government, under the Bush administration, directed the Inter-American Development Bank, in a highly unusual move, to withhold loans to the Aristide government that would have provided hundreds of millions of dollars for a potable water project, among other purposes. The Aristide administration was even forced to pay interest on the loans, despite their non-disbursal (in other words, the “loans” actually took money from Haiti while offering nothing in return).
Haiti’s relative lack of sanitary water was the principle reason that so many health workers feared the consequences were a water-borne disease such as cholera to emerge. As Partners in Health’s Joia Mukherjee explains in a new interview with Caribbean Journal, the after-effects of the earthquake, combined with heavy rains, made the cholera outbreak much more devastating:
That, coupled with the drastic decline in NGOs providing cholera treatment (as we’ve previously noted) over the past six months (from 128 in January [PDF], to 48 as of July 25 [PDF], according to the Health Cluster) meant that the large number of cholera cases (over 300,000 so far) was entirely predictable. As the American Red Cross’ Julie Sell explains in the PBS report: “There are some aid organizations that have had to pull out of Haiti or dramatically reduce their activities due to lack of funding. That's been a concern for the Haitians.”
In her Caribbean Journal interview, Mukherjee outlines what PIH sees as an effective roadmap for bringing cholera under control and reducing mortality as much as possible: