The cholera epidemic in Haiti has affected an unacceptable number of people with around 703,000 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 (GoH) in the fight against the disease.
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 74% reduction of the number of cases in the first five months of 2014 compared to the same period last year. The case fatality rate is below the 1% target rate set by the World Health Organization. Thanks to the increase in the use of cholera rapid tests, the UN and the GoH can better differentiate cholera from acute diarrhea and identify and isolate areas where cholera persists with targeted measures to eliminate the vibrio.
Despite progress made, structural issues, including weak water, sanitation and health systems, enable cholera, acute diarrhoea or other waterborne diseases to persist. 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 is still an emergency in Haiti 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.
The High-Level Committee for the Elimination of Cholera in Haiti met for the first time in Port-au-Prince on May 27 2014 to discuss efforts from operational strategies to sensitization campaigns eliminate the disease. The Haitian Prime Minister, the UN Special Representative to Haiti and the UN Senior Coordinator for cholera noted the upcoming launch of the total sanitation campaign to provide schools and health centres in targeted communities with adequate water and sanitation infrastructures. The Committee members welcomed reciprocal commitments for the intensification of efforts in the fight to eliminate cholera in Haiti.