UN chief launches new initiative to fight cholera in Hispaniola

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A Haitian Red Cross worker demonstrates the good hand washing techniques to students.

Cholera continues to take a heavy toll on Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

And UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon  launched an initiative for the elimination of cholera in Haiti noting that it has claimed the lives of more than 7,750 people, infected over 620,000, and added a heavy weight of suffering on a country already recovering from the largest natural disaster in the history of the western hemisphere.

TAPE: The United Nations and many partners have been working with the Haitian government and people to respond. We have focused on water and sanitation facilitiates, and on training, logistics and early warning. Haiti has seen a dramatic fall in infection and fatality rates. But this will not be a short-term crisis. Eliminating cholera from Haiti will continue to require the full cooperation and support of the international community.

NAR: The Presidents of Haiti and the Dominican Republic launched the Initiative for the Elimination of Cholera in the Island of Hispaniola, nearly a year ago.

And Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that the United Nations was launching a new initiative to support the Hispaniola campaign.

He says the new initiative will invest in prevention, treatment, and education and will take a holistic approach to tackling the cholera challenge. He adds that the UN will also continue to support the Government of Haiti in tracking cholera spending and ensure the wise and effective use of resources.

TAPE: Resources are critical. Haiti will need almost $500 million over the next two years to carry out its national implementation plan. Yet at a time when needs are high, funding is low. The relevant humanitarian appeals are less than half funded. Today I am pleased to announce that $215 million in existing funds from bilateral and multilateral donors will be used to support the initiative. I thank the donor community for this generous commitment. The United Nations will do its part. We are committing $23.5 million, building on the $118 million the UN system has spent on the cholera response to date. I will use every opportunity in the months ahead to mobilize even more funding.

NAR: Secretary-General Ban says the main focus is on the extension of clean drinking water and sanitation systems. But the Organization is also determined to save lives now through the use of an oral cholera vaccine.

He says because global vaccines are in short supply, the initiative will first target high-risk areas: densely populated urban areas and rural areas far removed from health services.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 2’51″

Filed under Caribbean News.
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