Aid groups are reporting that the number of cholera cases in Haiti is dropping steadily — a shard of positive news that comes amid piling pressure on the United Nations to take responsibility for its perceived role in bringing the disease to the earthquake-hit Caribbean country.
The latest bulletin from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs shows the average number of cholera cases per day dropped from 500 to 300 month on month. Medecins Sans Frontieres also reported they are now treating an average 10 to 20 cholera cases in two separate centers in Port-au-Prince — down from the 30 to 40 cases they attended to daily a month ago, The Associated Press says.
OCHA added mortality rates are also falling and largely stabilizing across Haiti, except in the Southeast department, where the average number of deaths has increased.
The decline in the number of cases was attributed in part to the start of Haiti’s dry season, which reduces the risk of the spread of the disease. Information campaigns by the government and aid agencies also helped educate Haitians on how to avoid the disease and seek treatment for it.
But these reports of slight progress in the international drive to contain the cholera epidemic in Haiti comes amid growing pressure on the United Nations to accept some responsibility for introducing the disease to the country, which has not seen a single reported cases of cholera before the earthquake in 2010.
In a blog post in the Guardian, the co-director of the U.S.-based Centre for Economic and Policy research think tank is criticizing senior U.N. officials for “misleading” the public and being “publicly dishonest” about the situation.
Mark Weisbrot says the global body’s continued denial of the possibility some of its peacekeepers introduced the bacteria to Haiti goes against scientific evidence. He adds that even an internal U.N. report has acknowledged the possibility.
“How much more evidence could we possibly need? You can bet that any impartial jury or judge in the world would find that the UN brought this epidemic to Haiti. And according to most countries’ laws, they would have to pay for what they did,” he argues.
In November, 5,000 cholera victims in Haiti filed legal action demanding at least $250 million in compensation and apology from the United Nations. The U.S.-based group Justice and Democracy in Haiti, which presented the petition on behalf of the cholera victims, has argued the United Nations is liable for the cholera outbreak due to its failure to adequately screen and treat the peacekeepers it sent to Haiti in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake.
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