U.S., WHO Preparing for Cholera Epidemic in Haiti “For Years to Come”
|Friday, 12 November 2010 18:09|
Yet, international agencies, and the U.S. government, already seem to be preparing for “an epidemic” that could last for years, killing thousands of people. As AP reported today:
The World Health Organization said Friday that the epidemic isn't likely to end soon.The blog Biosurveillance, run by an MD with an impressive CV detailing his experience in, among other areas, early disease detection, attributes a quote to a “senior U.S. government official”:
...we think [the cholera epidemic] can be managed effectively, as the response has been good in Haiti, and the GOH with our help has gotten out ahead of the curve, and are working hard to stay there...This is not to say that 1,500-2,000 or so deaths from cholera a year in Haiti for the next several years is acceptable, and we hope to get the mortality rates down well below that. But this is not in the same league as the earthquake either, so I think you can turn off the alarm bells.Such a worsening, prolonged epidemic – at least on the scale predicted by the U.S. and WHO -- might be avoided if funds are made available for treatment. Yet some $800 in outstanding aid pledges from the U.S. government continues to be held up over fears it could “be stolen or misused -- not an easy task in a country notorious for corruption,” as AP put it, before citing State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley:
"Given the weak governmental institutions that existed in Haiti even before the earthquake, Congress wants to be sure we have that accountability in place before these funds are obligated.”If Crowley explained the safeguards in place that allow for assurances that funds sent to countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq do not continue to be “stolen or misused,” as they have been repeatedly in the past, AP did not report it.
Even if this money were disbursed next week, it isn’t likely it would be used to treat cholera, as this “reconstruction pledge is a different pool of money, intended to support long-term rebuilding of the nation and its economy,” as AP reported yesterday, noting that the first tranche - $120 million - of the U.S.’ $1.15 billion pledge is finally being delivered “to the World Bank-run Haiti Reconstruction Fund” for “rubble removal, housing, a partial credit guarantee fund, support for an Inter-American Development Bank education reform plan and budget support for the Haitian government.”
The U.S. is far from the only country to procrastinate in fulfilling its aid pledges. Surveying the international community’s commitments, AP reports:
Less than 38 percent of the $5.6 billion pledged for 2010-11 has been delivered. Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, the Caribbean Development Bank — and, until the money arrives, the U.S. — have yet to give any of their promised funds, according to Bill Clinton's U.N. Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti.Meanwhile, Deutsche Presse Agentur reports:
Doctors in the earthquake-shattered country on Friday expressed concerns that they would soon have to treat cholera patients in unhygienic conditions.