The headlines are saying the violence in Haiti during this cholera outbreak could be ‘politically’ motivated. Could be but I doubt it! Given the pitiful progress the international community has had in the aftermath of the earthquake AND the incredible death toll that just continues to rise and will continue to rise given the poor conditions and hygiene there…which no one seems to be able to improve…these people are desperate! Desperate people do desperate things.
What would you be doing in those conditions? Cholera is a very, very unpleasant way to die and watching someone go out with cholera is not something one would forget…ever! I have been there and know this to be a fact…!!!
Anger over the lack of improvement in basic living conditions given the fact that many contractors are ready and willing to move is just fuel to a raging fire!
UN says Haiti cholera protests may be politically motivated
Port-au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) — The United Nations stabilization mission in Haiti condemned Tuesday violent anti-U.N. clashes that broke out the previous day in two northern Haitian cities, charging that the riots may be politically motivated.
The incidents began after rumors spread that a Nepalese contingent of peacekeepers may have started the cholera outbreak in Haiti. The United Nations said the rumors held no truth.
“The way in which the events unfolded leads to the belief that the incidents had a political motivation, aimed at creating a climate of insecurity on the eve of the elections,” the U.N. mission, known by the acronym MINUSTAH, said in a statement Tuesday.
“MINUSTAH calls on the population to remain vigilant and not let itself be manipulated by the enemies of stability and democracy in the country,” the statement said.
The U.N. mission said one protester was killed in the riots in Hinche after being fired upon by a U.N. peacekeeper. The mission said the protesters were armed and fired on the peacekeepers, who shot back in self-defense, but it has opened an investigation into the incident.
Cholera killing hundreds in Haiti
Chart: Cholera on the rise in Haiti
* Contagious and Infectious Diseases
In Cap Haitien, schools and banks were closed, residents set fire to tires at entrances to the town and gunfire ricocheted through the streets, residents and officials told CNN.
Vincenzo Pugliese, a spokesman for MINUSTAH, said Monday anti-riot police were coping with the demonstrations, which he said began in the morning in at least two locations. “Apparently, some people were injured by bottles or stones,” he said.
“We are facing the consequences of a cholera epidemic and in two weeks the elections, so the population is scared,” he said. “It’s a volatile situation.”
Pugliese pointed to the fact that demonstrations began in separate areas as evidence that the outbreak was not spontaneous.
“Right now, security forces … seem to have control already of the situation,” he said.
In addition, a police station was torched, the U.N. peacekeeping force said.
An employee at the office of Tortug Air told CNN that the four daily flights typically scheduled between Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien had been canceled due to “political tension.” She declined to be named.
“It’s not safe to walk in the streets,” Marc George, a resident of Cap Haitien, told CNN by telephone. “People are fighting the soldiers of MINUSTAH.”
Haitian government spokeswoman Alice Blanchet said a delegation of high level officials are heading to Cap Haitien to negotiate with the protesters.
Imogen Wall, a spokeswoman for the United Nations, said at least one U.N. warehouse has been looted and that a planeload of cholera supplies intended for Cap Haitien was not able to go.
“Cap Haitien is very serious for cholera right now,” she said. “You can’t run cholera response in this atmosphere.”
Cyrus Sibert, a journalist with Radio Souvenir FM, described the violence.
“Many people from the slum area, they are burning tires, throwing rocks and bottles,” he said. “And they are very mad against MINUSTAH. There are rumors that MINUSTAH is responsible for the cholera. And the cholera killed many people in Cap Haitien. Now taxi drivers are afraid to bring people to the hospital. It is very difficult to find a taxi driver when someone is sick.”
He said trash trucks were picking up the dead.
In the town of Hinche, northeast of the capital, about 400 demonstrators protested the peacekeepers, six of whom were injured, Pugliese said. In Quartier Morin a protester was killed after he was hit by a peacekeeper who fired in self defense. An investigation is underway.
Radio RCI reporter Jean Wesley said protesters threw rocks at MINUSTAH peacekeepers who, in turn, threw them back and also opened fire. Haitian police were patrolling the town looking for the rock throwers among the protesters, some of whom had set tires afire, he said.
The cholera outbreak, which was first confirmed last month in northwest Haiti, had spread across much of the country by Monday, killing more than 1,000 people and entering the makeshift camps teeming with people who were made homeless in January’s massive earthquake, officials said.
The latest Ministry of Public Health report available said that as of Sunday, 1034 people were dead and 16,799 were hospitalized.
“When people have finished their treatment and they leave the centers, they go back to what is potentially a cholera infected area,” said Stefano Zannini, head of the Haiti mission for Medicins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders).
“Here in Port-au-Prince, 1.4 million people are still living in camps, where hygeine, sanitation and clean water are often scarce. Infrastructure is weak and it’s very difficult to get medical aid and water to all of these people.”
In the slum of Cite Soleil in the northern part of the capital, hundreds of people had sought treatment for the illness, he said. “Patients are coming from everywhere, throughout the city, slums and wealthier areas.”
If the numbers continue to increase at the current rate, he said, “then we’re going to have to adopt some drastic measures to be able to treat people. We’re going to have to use public spaces and even streets. I can easily see this situation deteriorating to the point where patients are lying in the street, waiting for treatment. At the moment, we just don’t have that many options.”
Zannini noted that the situation in Port-au-Prince has been dire since the January 12 earthquake hammered what was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, killing more than 200,000 people and shattering its already weak infrastructure.
“Since the earthquake, every available space that wasn’t damaged has been filled by camps where people are living in extremely precarious conditions,” he said. “Just to find an empty area in this city is a major logistical challenge, so for us to find room to treat people is very complicated.”
Medicins Sans Frontieres has more than 100 international staff and more than 400 Haitian staff working in cholera treatment centers throughout the country, with more on the way, “but it’s just not enough,” Zannini said. “We are close to being overwhelmed.”
A scientist with the U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said he had been in several hospitals “that I would not characterize as overflowing … but some places are busier than others.”
Still, Haiti is particularly vulnerable to such an outbreak, said Dr. Robert Quick, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC’s waterborne-disease prevention branch and one of 34 CDC personnel in the country.
“It’s a country that has not seen epidemic cholera for decades,” he told CNN in a telephone interview. “So it’s an immunologically naive population, meaning that literally everyone is susceptible to infection. It’s a resource-poor country where hygiene and sanitary conditions are not what they could be, so this is a combination that can result in what we’re seeing now — an outbreak with many cases.”
If Haiti’s cholera epidemic follows a pattern similar to that of the last cholera epidemic in the Americas, it could produce hundreds of thousands of additional cases over the next several years, Dr. Jon K. Andrus, deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization, told reporters last week.
“We have to prepare for a large upsurge in cases,” Andrus said. “We have to be prepared with all the resources that are needed for a rapid response.”
The hemisphere’s last cholera epidemic began in Peru in 1991 and spread to some 16 other countries, from Argentina to Canada, he said. From 1991 to 1997, Peru alone saw more than 650,000 cases.
A similar pattern in Haiti could produce some 270,000 cases, which means public health officials likely face long-term challenges in Haiti. “The bacteria have a foothold in the rivers and the water system, so it will be there for a number of years,” he said.
Still, he said, the cholera epidemic need not interfere with the Haitian general elections scheduled for November 28.
“There is no reason to expect the elections to have a negative impact on the cholera epidemic,” said Andrus. “And in fact, the Ministry of Health is planning to use the occasion to disseminate prevention messages to the population. It will help prevent the spread of infection.”
The United Nations, which has appealed to international donors for $164 million in aid, said it anticipates as many as 200,000 people to be sickened with cholera over the next six to 12 months.
Symptoms of cholera, an acute, bacterial illness caused by drinking tainted water, can be mild or even nonexistent. But sometimes they can be severe: leg cramps, profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting, which can cause rapid loss of body fluids and lead to dehydration, shock and death.
Such an outbreak would be unlikely to occur in a developed country like the United States because it has water-treatment facilities and sewage systems, according to the CDC’s Quick.
“We may get imported cases, but they’re not going to take hold and turn into an outbreak. It’s just not as likely,” he said.
While I don’t want to seem callous, I am not and feel deeply over the plight of these people, we must all take a look at just how rapidly a situation can deteriorate into violence and chaos. Are you ready for this?
The cholera epidemic in Haiti has become a major issue, although not reported. No one seems to want to admit that the ‘international aid/recovery’ program and donations is a complete failure. Nothing significant has been accomplished or perhaps even begun to help these people recover.
I am totally dismayed at the ‘central’ governments approach. The vast majority of these governments have never completed their pledges and now it is perhaps too late to make any difference in the life and death struggles of these people.
Cholera is a illness born in contaminated water and food and can spread like wildfire. I have had cholera and it is not something that will go away on its own. Many more people will considering the lack of progress in getting the country ‘back on its feet’.
A tragedy in human terms would be the understatement of the century. The death toll could make the death toll, worldwide from the Tsunami look small by comparison.
Aid Workers Fear Cholera Epidemic May Overwhelm Haitian Hospitals
Published November 15, 2010
Haitian hospitals face overcrowding as the cholera epidemic continues to spread through the impoverished country.
As of Nov. 12, more than 917 people had died and at least 14,600 had been hospitalized, the Haitian government said Sunday. Health care workers consider those numbers to be understated.
The United Nations forecasted up to 200,000 Haitians could contract cholera as the outbreak extends.
Aid workers fear the growing numbers may soon overwhelm Haiti’s health care facilities.
“In this hospital, because of space constraints, we have to make sure that people can be sent to another place where we can provide better care very fast, so that we can still receive,” hospital manager Francoise Gyrone told The Associated Press.
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The disease, mainly spread by fecal contamination of food and water, had never had a confirmed case in Haiti before it appeared in late October along the Artibonite River and spread across the country. The strain is one mainly found in South Asia.
Haitian President Rene Preval led a panel of speakers in a Sunday address to implore citizens to practice good hygiene and proper cooking methods.
But even before a massive earthquake left 1.3 million people living in temporary tent villages, most Haitians did not have access to clean water or reliable sanitation.
“When we go around and give advice about hygiene, they say, ‘Let me have soap, I can’t afford it,’ ” Leonard Doyle, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, an agency that is distributing water purification tablets and cleaning supplies, told the New York Times.
The central rural province of Artibonite is the worst-affected, accounting for nearly 600 of the total deaths, Reuters reported. Other affected provinces are Centre, Nord, Nord Ouest, Sud, and Ouest, where the capital Port-au-Prince is located.
The United Nations Friday said $163.9 million in aid is needed over the next year to combat the epidemic, with $89 million going to sanitation and hygiene efforts.
I have run into several individuals and small organizations that continue to try to help these people. It appears that this will be the only way that there will ever be any significant progress made. The ‘international’ organizations don’t seem to be able to tie their own shoes.
Haiti and Africa now suffering from deadly outbreaks of cholera. Really bad, record setting weather in U.S. Volcanoes and tsunamis…things are heating up.
Aid agencies fear Haiti cholera moves towards capital
Aid agencies in Haiti say they fear that suspected new cases of cholera might mean the epidemic is moving closer to the capital Port-au-Prince.
The Nepalese camp had become the object of local suspicion partly because cholera is very rare in Haiti but endemic in Nepal.
Tests taken from the peacekeepers’ camp and adjacent waters last week were found to be negative, said a spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Results from additional tests taken at the base this week were expected on Friday, added the spokesman, Martin Nesirky.
Sarah Jacobs from the aid organisation Save the Children told the BBC that 174 new cases of cholera were being investigated in the area around Arcahaie, a village in the northern Port-au-Prince district and about an hour’s drive from the capital.
“These suspected cases are much nearer the capital,” Ms Jacobs said.
“So if this is actually confirmed as cholera as we suspect it will be, it means that the cholera has spread, it’s that much nearer to the capital. And that’s the thing we really need to avoid,” she added.
So far a handful of cases have been reported in Port-au-Prince, but they were all people who had contracted the disease in other parts of the country.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said health workers were now investigating suspected cholera cases in three more departments – Nord, Nordouest and Nordest – in addition to the confirmed cases in Artibonite, Central and Ouest.
At least 292 people had died and more than 4,100 were being treated, PAHO deputy director Jon Kim Andrus said.
But the official case counts almost certainly underestimated the number of people infected, he added.
“We really don’t know about communities where diarrhoea cases are occurring but not reaching health centres”, Mr Andrus said.
Officials from the World Health Organisation recommended that Haiti should prepare for the disease to spread to Port-au-Prince and warned that the epidemic had not yet reached its peak.
On Wednesday, UN investigators took samples of waste from a UN base in Mirebalais after allegations that excrement from a newly arrived Nepalese peacekeeping unit had caused the epidemic.
The Associated Press news agency reported that local politicians blame the outbreak on the base, which is perched above the source of the Meille river, a tributary to the Artibonite river.
The Artibonite is regarded to be the source of most cholera infections on Haiti’s central plateau.
The UN rejected the accusations, and said the Nepalese unit at the base used sealed septic tanks.
The spread of the disease has alarmed locals in the region, who have vented their fears on the doctors who have arrived to help them.
A treatment centre set up by the international medical charity MSF in Saint-Marc was attacked by angry locals, who said they were afraid that the facility would bring more cases of the disease to their town.
UN peacekeepers were drafted in to sort out the disturbance, and no injuries were reported.
Health experts say they expect the outbreak will soon lessen but the disease will eventually join malaria and tuberculosis in becoming endemic in Haiti.
Dominican Republic fears
The public information campaign urges people to boil food and water, avoid raw vegetables and regularly wash with soap.
The health ministry has said it will train 30,000 staff over the next few months to join the anti-cholera campaign.
Special treatment centres have been set up in the worst affected area around the Artibonite River, as well as in Port-au-Prince.
Some 1.3 million survivors of January’s devastating earthquake are living in tent camps in and around the capital.
Poor sanitary conditions make the camps and slums vulnerable to cholera, which is caused by bacteria transmitted through contaminated water or food.
Cholera causes diarrhoea and vomiting leading to severe dehydration, and can kill within 24 hours, but is easily treated through rehydration and antibiotics.
The PAHO said there was a “high risk” cholera could also spread to the neighbouring Dominican Republic.
Authorities there had closed popular farmers’ markets on the border but have now reopened them after establishing sanitary controls in the region, the Dominican Republic’s health minister said.
Are you prepared for anything that might be coming your way?