Aid Groups Slam 'Inadequate' Haiti Cholera Response, Funding

Cholera patients lie on mats at the crowded St. Nicholas Hospital in Haiti's Artibonite region of Haiti. Photo by: Sophia Paris / United Nations

Efforts to curb the spread of cholera in quake-hit Haiti are “inadequate” and underfunded, aid groups warn.

“Despite the huge presence of international organizations in Haiti, the cholera response has to date been inadequate in meeting the needs of the population,” Medecins Sans Frontieres said in a statement.

Only USD5 million has so far been funded of the United Nations’ USD164 million aid appeal to combat cholera, which has claimed 1,180 lives in Haiti, according to Imogen Wall, spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“The response is completely inadequate and in this situation where we are against the clock we urgently need support if we are going to save lives,” she told Reuters.

The non-partisan Disaster Accountability Project has accused aid organizations of failing to utilize funds mobilized for Haiti, saying a cholera epidemic was avoidable. 

“Donors have been duped. They generously donated in response to urgent appeals to save lives and help the people of Haiti after the devastating earthquake. Now, after billions in cash was raised, earthquake survivors are dying of cholera because conditions are so poor and the donated money is sitting in the bank. This is not what donors had in mind and it underscores the importance of transparency and accountability in relief and aid situations,” DAP Executive Director Ben Smilowitz told investigative journalist Georgianne Nienaber.

Nigel Fisher, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Haiti, said: “Critical supplies and skills are urgently needed. We need doctors, nurses, water purification systems, chlorine tablets, soap, oral rehydration salts, tents for cholera treatment centers and a range of other supplies.”

Canada says it will provide an additional 4 million Canadian dollars (USD3.9 million) to support the work of the Pan-American Health Organization and UNICEF in addressing the cholera outbreak in Haiti. 

The U.N. resumed Nov. 20 its operations in northern Haiti after a week of protests. Haitians blamed U.N. peacekeepers for the outbreak, CBC News reports.

About the author

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    Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.