UN chief tells US it will combat cholera in Haiti

July 6, 2013 by Edith M. Lederer

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told members of the U.S. Congress Friday that the United Nations is committed to helping Haiti overcome a cholera epidemic even though it is refusing to pay compensation to victims who blame U.N. peacekeepers for starting the outbreak.

Health officials say more than 657,000 people have fallen ill and more than 8,000 people have died from cholera since it was likely introduced to Haiti by U.N. troops from Nepal in 2010. More than 30,000 people have fallen ill and 440 have died in the neighboring Dominican Republic.

Ban was responding to a May 30 letter from U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, and 18 other Congressional "friends of the people of Haiti" who expressed concern at the U.N.'s rejection of the claims by 5,000 cholera victims and their families.

The lawmakers urged the U.N. to take responsibility for introducing cholera into Haiti and take the lead in funding the Hispaniola Initiative, which requires $2.2 billion for Haiti and $70 million for the Dominican Republic over the next 10 years to improve access to clean water, develop infrastructure, and address the .

"We are dismayed that the United Nations has committed only $23.5 million for this initiative," the members of Congress said.

Ban sent separate letters to the 19 lawmakers outlining measures the United Nations has taken and supported, saying it has devoted more than $140 million to cholera treatment and prevention activities since 2010.

"These efforts have helped to decrease the rate of new infection by 90 percent since the began," he said. "The mortality rate has been brought down to around 1 percent. Still, further progress must be made."

He did not address the issue of responsibility for the epidemic, and he reiterated that the U.N. rejected the compensation claim in February on grounds that the world body has from such lawsuits.

"I would like to assure you that the legal decision does not in any way diminish my personal commitment, and that of the United Nations, to do all we can to help the people of Haiti overcome the cholera epidemic," Ban said. "Achieving this goal will not be easy, but it is possible."

The secretary-general agreed with the lawmakers that funding is "far from sufficient" and expressed concern that "the austere fiscal climate" could affect new financial commitments from U.N. member states to combat cholera.

Explore further: Haiti cholera death toll nears 7,000: expert

Related Stories

Haiti cholera death toll nears 7,000: expert

January 6, 2012

Nearly 7,000 people have now died from cholera in Haiti in an epidemic which has become one of the worst of recent decades, a top health official said Friday.

Dominican Republic, Haiti in 10-year cholera fight

October 8, 2012

(AP)—Officials in Haiti and the Dominican Republic are preparing for a long campaign against cholera, the water-borne disease that has sickened tens of thousands of people in the two neighboring Caribbean countries.

UN launches major cholera appeal for Haiti

December 12, 2012

The United Nations on Tuesday launched a $2.2 billion appeal for a campaign to halt a cholera epidemic in Haiti, widely blamed on UN peacekeepers, which has killed more than 7,750 people.

UN chief names special advisor for Haiti cholera

December 29, 2012

The UN chief on Friday named a US health expert as special advisor in fighting Haiti's cholera epidemic, which has claimed more than 7,750 lives and is widely blamed on UN peacekeepers.

UN rejects Haiti cholera damages claim

February 21, 2013

The United Nations on Thursday formally rejected a multi-billion-dollar damages claim for a cholera epidemic in Haiti that has been widely blamed on UN peacekeepers.

Dominican official denies report of bird flu

June 8, 2013

A Dominican official says Haiti erroneously reported that his country has an outbreak of avian flu when it cited the disease as a reason for imposing a ban this week on the import of Dominican meats, chicken, eggs and other ...

Recommended for you

Monkeys in Asia harbor virus from humans, other species

November 19, 2015

When it comes to spreading viruses, bats are thought to be among the worst. Now a new study of nearly 900 nonhuman primates in Bangladesh and Cambodia shows that macaques harbor more diverse astroviruses, which can cause ...

One-step test for hepatitis C virus infection developed

November 14, 2015

UC Irvine Health researchers have developed a cost-effective one-step test that screens, detects and confirms hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. Dr. Ke-Qin Hu, director of hepatology services, will present findings at the ...

Computer model reveals deadly route of Ebola outbreak

November 10, 2015

Using a novel statistical model, a research team led by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health mapped the spread of the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, providing the most detailed picture to date ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.