Agencies try to keep cholera from Haiti capital

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Monday May 30, 2011 – The United Nations says health partners in Haiti are responding promptly to increasing cases of cholera in the Ouest department to ensure that the new infections do not spread to the capital, Port-au-Prince.

“Given the early detection of alerts, a prompt response is under way,” Fadela Chaib, the UN World Health Organisation (WHO) spokesperson, told reporters in Geneva.

She said the current surge in the number of cases in Ouest department is a reminder of the need for vigilance. 

“Haiti will be facing cholera for years unless water and sanitation issues are properly fixed,” Chaib warned.

A cholera outbreak that erupted in Haiti in October last year has claimed more than 4,500 lives and nearly 300,000 people fell ill with the disease. Fresh infections continue to occur.

A report by an independent panel set up by the UN to investigate the source of the cholera outbreak concluded that a “confluence of circumstances,” and not the fault of any group or individual, was responsible for the fast-moving outbreak.

The four-member panel of experts included a series of recommendations for the UN and the Haitian Government so they can help prevent the future introduction and spread of cholera.

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