Haiti cholera death toll soars as election nears
Port-Au-Prince (AFP) Nov 15, 2010
Haiti's cholera toll has risen above 900, including dozens of deaths in the teeming capital, as the epidemic showed no sign of abating just two weeks ahead of presidential elections.
Health Ministry officials reported Sunday more than 120 new deaths since the previous toll, as authorities and international aid agencies struggled to contain the latest crisis afflicting the desperately poor Caribbean nation.
Nearly one month after cholera took hold, the confirmed fatalities rose to 917, up from Friday's 796 recorded deaths.
The recent increase in fatalities has been steady and not a spike, but it nonetheless highlights the difficulties of tamping down an outbreak in a country desperate for better infrastructure and health services.
As concerns rise over massive health challenges in the aftermath of the country's cataclysmic earthquake almost a year ago, Haiti confronts the hardening prospect of national elections two weeks from now in the midst of a series of disasters.
Of Haiti's 10 provinces, six now have been touched by the cholera epidemic according to the health ministry, which said 14,642 people so far had been treated in hospital, about 2,300 more than on Friday.
At least 27 of the deaths were recorded in the teeming capital Port-au-Prince, including its largest slum Cite Soleil and its suburbs.
Most of those treated already have been released, but a wave of new infections is swamping understaffed and ill-prepared hospitals and clinics across the country.
Officials fear the scale of the epidemic could increase exponentially if cholera infiltrates makeshift camps in Port-au-Prince where hundreds of thousands of earthquake survivors live in cramped and unsanitary conditions.
A cataclysmic earthquake flattened much of the capital in January, leaving more than a quarter people dead and an estimated 1.3 million of Haiti's 10 million population displaced.
Amid the crises, Haitians are due to vote for a new president and parliamentarians in late November.
Mirlande Manigat, the candidate who leads in polls ahead of the vote to succeed outgoing President Rene Preval, said it would be "unreasonable" for officials to postpone the election despite the crises.
"The general situation is not favorable for elections, because of the earthquake, health problems, cholera (and) hurricanes" among the pressing crises facing the country, Manigats told AFP.
But "we are now at a point when we cannot step back" from the election, "because there is a momentum within the population," the former first lady and longtime opposition leader said.
Candidate Leslie Voltaire also urged authorities to hold the vote as scheduled on November 28.
"We cannot postpone the election because of the cholera. You never know, if you postpone the election by a month or two, the cholera may be worse than it is today."
The United Nations is asking for 164 million dollars to fight the epidemic, which has gained strength over the past week and spread to Port-au-Prince, and has warned that aid efforts could be "overrun by the epidemic" without urgent global financial assistance.
The bulk of the requested money -- around 89 million dollars -- will be used for water, sanitation and hygiene, while 43 million will be used for health, and 19 million for efforts in the camps housing people displaced by the earthquake, UN officials said.
Conditions were aggravated dramatically earlier this month when Hurricane Tomas brought heavy rains which caused rivers to burst their banks, including the Artibonite River, which is believed to be the conduit of the disease.
The Artibonite region in the northwest has been the hardest hit, with 595 recorded deaths.
The aid group Save the Children said 40 percent of those who have died in the epidemic were not in a hospital or clinic, suggesting they had no treatment or had not recognized symptoms of a disease that can kill within hours.
Meanwhile, officials in the neighboring Dominican Republic said the government was limiting markets on the border and taking other steps to ensure cholera does not reach that country, The New York Times reported.
The Dominican Republic has made preparations to treat 7,500 to 10,000 cholera patients if necessary, the report said.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Epidemics on Earth - Bird Flu, HIV/AIDS, Ebola
Leicester, England (UPI) Nov 13, 2010
British and Irish scientists say they are close to developing a vaccine that would protect against 92 strains of the bacterium that causes pneumonia. Dr. Aras Kadioglu of the University of Leicester and Dr. Ed Lavelle of Trinity College said the prospect is the result of their discovery that pneumolysin, a toxin produced by Streptococcus pneumoniae, triggers the human body to produce pr ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|