A woman holds her sick child as he receives treatment for cholera at a Doctors Without Borders, MSF, cholera clinic in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, last October. Ramon Espinosa/AP

GOAL warns that Haiti could face second cholera outbreak

It’s rainy season on the earthquake-stricken island – and the charity warns that cholera cases are already on the up again.

THE EARTHQUAKE-STRICKEN country of Haiti could be on the verge of a second cholera epidemic, as the county’s rainy season leads to another rise in the number of cases recorded.

Irish humanitarian charity GOAL says the wet season, which arrived last month, led to an average of 77 new cases of cholera being recorded every day in March.

The charity’s country director Derek Butler said the surge in new cases meant a “serious health problem could be just around the corner”.

Some 7,000 people have died from cholera since it was first reported there in October 2010, nine months after the country sustained horrific damage in a powerful 7.0-magnitude inland earthquake.

“GOAL is working in and around Port-au-Prince to ensure cholera victims get access to treatment, to help communities respond and react to the threat of the disease, and to try and ensure that the source of any outbreak in this rainy season is contained as much as possible,” Butler said.

Butler warned that a long-term solution for fighting the cholera outbreak was being provided, but that it was dependant on significant humanitarian funding. Without it, he added, charities would only be able to treat crises as they arose.

Studies carried out last year in the wake of the last significant cholera outbreak suggested that the strain of the infection had originated from Nepal, leading to suggestions that a UN peacekeeping mission from the country had accidentally brought the bacteria with them.

The study found an “exact correlation” between the arrival of the Nepalese battalion and the first appearance of the bacterium in the Meille river, a tributary of the larger Artibonite river which provided the only stable water source for many Haitians.

The UN complained last month that hundreds of thousands of people in the country were still at major risk as a result of a shortfall in humanitarian donations.

Its humanitarian co-ordinator for the country, Nigel Fisher, had said only half of the €290 million needed for last year’s operations had been provided, and that only a tenth of the €175 million pledged for 2012 had been supplied by last month.

In January the UN had said that while the likes of Japan and Finland had paid their full contributions to the relief works, the likes of the United States had only so far handed over 30 per cent of its total aid commitments.

Ireland has still to pay around €1.5 million of the €13 million total it pledged in humanitarian aid, but junior aid minister Joe Costello said in February that the outstanding balance would be paid up “in the coming months”.

Read: Govt to commit outstanding €1.5m of Haiti aid ‘in coming months’

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