Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Cholera in Haiti

Letter to the Editor by Sarah Mi Ra Dougherty, New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Cholera’s Second Fever: An Urge to Blame” (Week in Review, Nov. 21):

To the Haitians dying each day of cholera, the source of the outbreak matters. Before October, cholera had never been confirmed in Haiti, and evidence points to recent introduction by United Nations soldiers. Yet the United Nations’ and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s steadfast refusal to investigate is negligent, bordering on reckless.

Knowing where and how cholera entered the Haitian population is critical to long-term prevention and control. Moreover, cholera’s history teaches us that the rational alternative to speculation and scapegoating is to uncover the etiology of the disease.

To assert that Haitians somehow share equal blame for cholera’s spread ignores the failure of the humanitarian response to achieve even minimum sanitation standards in earthquake-affected areas.

Until the outbreak is investigated, Haiti’s cholera victims will continue suffering multiple injustices: an imported epidemic, inability to gain access to clean water and sanitation, and the refusal of those in power to take their public health responsibilities seriously.

Sarah Mi Ra Dougherty
Boston, Nov. 22, 2010

The writer is a fellow at the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.

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