The cholera epidemic in Haiti has affected an unacceptable number of people with more than 700,000 suspected cases and an estimated 8500 deaths reported from October 2010 to date. Since the beginning of the epidemic, the UN has made eliminating cholera from Haiti a top priority and has initiated a system-wide effort to support the Government of Haiti in the fight against the disease.
These concerted Haitian and international efforts have succeeded in significantly reducing the toll of the epidemic. There has been a retraction of cholera in country with a 75% reduction of the number of cases in the first trimester of 2014 compared to the same period last year. The overall incidence of the disease has been reduced by 50% and fatality rates are below the 1% target rate set by the World Health Organization. The first months of 2014 have registered the lowest number of cases and cholera related deaths since the beginning of the epidemic. Thanks to the increase in the use of cholera rapid tests, the UN and the GoH are being able to better differentiate cholera from acute diarrhea and to identify and isolate the areas where cholera persists with targeted measures to eliminate the vibrio.
Despite progress made, the structural issues enabling cholera, acute diarrhoea or other waterborne diseases persist, with weak water, sanitation and health systems. Haiti has fallen further behind the rest of the region in sanitation coverage since 1990, with the most excluded population in rural areas. More than a third of the population (38 per cent) lack access to safe water . Cholera in Haiti is still an emergency and efforts need to be pursued to sustainably eliminate the disease. The UN reaffirms its commitment to work closely with national authorities and international partners to mount a scaled up response to beat back the spread of cholera. This is its first priority. A significant effort to strengthen Haiti’s health and water and sanitation systems is urgently required as a fundamental part of the fight against cholera. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appealed to governments, philanthropists and the private sector to provide the funding that Haiti needs to save lives and eliminate the epidemic.