Three weeks ago, the United Nations asked the international community for 160 million to contain the cholera epidemic in Haiti. To date, only about 20% of the funding has been received. Trying to sound the alarm today, Ban Ki Moon says that as many as 650,000 people may be affected by the epidemic over the next six months, and that the current toll may already be twice as high as the over 1,800 deaths and nearly 81,000 cases so far reported. That is from the UN News Center, which adds:
The UN World Health Organization (WHO) and its regional arm, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), estimate that an additional 350 doctors, 2,000 nurses and 2,200 support staff will be required over the next three months, in addition to the 300 medical personnel that Cuba has already committed.
Some 30,000 community health workers and volunteers also need to be trained to help staff an estimated 15,000 oral re-hydration points, while still others are required to promote better hygiene in camps and communities. Cholera is spread through contaminated food and water – due to poor access to safe water, inadequate sanitation and high population density in the camps.
Keep in mind that Cholera will not be contained to Haiti. It has already spread to southwest Florida, albeit in a limited way. (And it is not unreasonable to assume that it will spread elsewhere in North American and the Caribbean.) So far, the United States has spent $20 million on containing the Cholera epidemic, which seems like a pretty sound investment considering how easily the disease could spread to the United States. But as Ban said today, it more funding is urgently needed.