Recognizing the serious consequences of poor water and sanitation in Haiti in regards to the cholera epidemic, the American Public Health Association (APHA) urges the United Nations to make funding for the National Plan against cholera its top priority. Without proper water and sanitation, cholera will continue to infect and kill Haitians endlessly. Given the UN’s responsibility for the epidemic by ignoring common knowledge of Haiti’s poor infrastructure and carelessly dumping its waste in Haiti in 2010, it is up to the UN to oversee the plan and make sure it’s fully funded.
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The United Nations’ Accountability for its Role in the Haitian Cholera Epidemic
American Public Health Association
November 1, 2o16
Decades of neglect of water and sanitation infrastructure have left the Haitian population vulnerable to outbreaks of waterborne illness. Despite the vulnerability of the population, United Nations (UN) forces (troops of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, or MINUSTAH) have failed to take adequate precautions with their sewage, allowing human waste infected with cholera to contaminate the Haitian water supply. Since the cholera outbreak began in Haiti in October 2010, there have been at least 9,229 deaths and 789,242 Haitians infected. Given the role played by UN troops in the Haitian cholera epidemic, APHA urges the UN secretary-general and Department of Peacekeeping Operations to take leadership in guaranteeing that the National Plan for the Elimination of Cholera in Haiti is properly funded. The United Nations’ own special rapporteur released a report in August 2016 urging the secretary-general to take responsibility for the introduction of cholera in Haiti and advising the UN to make financial restitution for this mistake. Following this report, the secretary-general’s spokesperson acknowledged MINUSTAH’s role in causing the cholera epidemic; however, there has been no commitment on the part of the UN to take financial responsibility for the crisis. Without a long-term plan for building a national water and sanitation system, Haiti will remain vulnerable to cholera outbreaks during the rainy season and whenever a natural disaster occurs. Hurricane Matthew, which struck Haiti on October 4, 2016, has already led to a surge in cases, including more than 1,400 new infections in the 2 weeks immediately after the hurricane.
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