The World Health Organization predicts more than 112,000 Cholera cases in Haiti in 2012. The deadly infection is often found in areas of the world with poor sanitation, and the severe diarrhea it causes often lead to dehydration and death.
On Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed an independent panel as well as a $2.2 billion initiative to study and stamp out cholera over the next decade in impoverished Haiti, a country where an epidemic has broken out and killed thousands of people. The source of the outbreak has been traced back to U.N. peacekeepers from Napal.
“Eliminating cholera from Haiti will continue to require the full cooperation and support of the international community,” said Ban. “The main focus is on the extension of clean drinking water and sanitation systems…But we are also determined to save lives now through the use of an oral cholera vaccine…which is in short supply”
The cholera outbreak comes at a bad time for Haiti, a country still reeling from an earthquake in January 2010 that killed about 300,000 people and left more than 1.5 million homeless. Even though 1.2 million of those displaced have returned to homes, 390,000 remain in tent camps.
Ban says that his initiative plans to target high-risk areas like these first—areas made up of densely populated urban and rural communities far removed from health services. Ban eventually hopes to stretch aid into bordering Dominican Republic where the cholera outbreak has also spread.
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