UN wants Caribbean to support new approach to cholera in Haiti

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The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has called on all member states, including those in the Caribbean, to support the efforts by the global body to help rid Haiti of the cholera epidemic that has killed thousands of people since the first case was detected in October 2010.

The UNGA said it recognises the moral responsibility of the United Nations to the victims of the cholera epidemic in French-speaking Caribbean Community (Caricom) country, and has welcomed the new UN approach to tackling the disease, formally launched earlier this month by outgoing Secretary General BanKi-moon.

Adopting a consensus resolution, the assembly called on “all member states, relevant

UN bodies and other international governmental and non-governmental partners to provide their full support to (the new UN approach), in particular to intensify their efforts to respond to and eliminate cholera and to address the suffering of its victims, including by providing material assistance and support to communities and those Haitians most directly affected by cholera”.

Costing an estimated US$400 million over the next two years, the UN said the approach, detailed in a report of the secretary general, entitled ‘A new approach to cholera in Haiti’ will centre on two different elements, known as “Track One.”

Track One consists of a “greatly intensified and better-resourced effort to respond to and reduce the incidence of cholera, through addressing Haiti’s short- and longer-term issues of water, sanitation and health systems and improved access to care and treatment”, the UN said.

It said Track Two of the approach is the development of a package of material assistance and support to those Haitians most directly affected by cholera, centred on the victims and their families and communities.

“It is expected that it will also involve affected individuals and communities in the development of the package,” the UN said.

It said Haiti has been dealing with a cholera outbreak since October 2010, some nine months after it suffered a devastating earthquake.

The outbreak has affected an estimated 788,000 people and claimed the lives of more than 9, 000, the UN said, adding that concerted national and international actions have resulted in a 90 per cent reduction in the number of suspected cases.

Briefing the assembly on the new approach in early December, Ban apologised to the people of Haiti, expressing deep regret for the loss of life and suffering caused by the French-speaking country’s cholera epidemic.

“The United Nations and its member states have the power to recognise and respond to that suffering,” he said, adding “let us step up in solidarity to our moral duty and do the right thing for the Haitian people and our United Nations”.

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