Published By The Plain Dealer Editorial Board, cleveland.com
Shockingly, infected U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal likely brought on the world’s largest cholera epidemic, in Haiti. Tests show the two disease strains are virtually identical. Researchers say cholera-infected sewage from the Nepalese camp seeped into waterways that poor Haitians use for drinking and bathing.
That makes the failure of the United Nations and nongovernmental groups to ramp up treatment quickly all the more disturbing.
It’s incumbent on the United Nations to accept its share of responsibility for this debacle and dedicate itself to an all-out effort in Haiti to stop the spread of this highly treatable, infectious, water-borne disease.
The United Nations should also help compensate victims — more than 7,050 Haitians have died and more than 531,000 have been sickened — and build effective latrines for peacekeepers and civilians alike.
Haitians who survived a massive earthquake in 2010 are appropriately furious now that it’s clear that poor hygiene at a U.N. camp and a failure to screen peacekeepers for infectious diseases ballooned their nightmare.
Although cholera cases have dwindled during Haiti’s dry season, the United Nations and nonprofits must redouble efforts to prevent new outbreaks. One debacle is enough.