Deaths from the cholera epidemic in Haiti could rise above 10,000 if help doesn't quicken, but bureaucracy is slowing aid down, says a Canadian who heads the United Nations humanitarian efforts in the Caribbean country.We’ve been noting since shortly after relief efforts began that numerous big NGO’s, foundations, and contractors have continued to prioritize long-term reconstruction over immediate, urgent humanitarian crises. Millions of dollars – some donated by concerned individuals who want their money used to save lives, some from U.S. taxpayers via USAID - have remained in bank accounts while people have died.
"All the conditions for a massive cholera epidemic are present in Haiti," Nigel Fisher told CBC News. "It is exploding."
The United Nations puts the reported cholera death toll at 1,344, but says experts believe the tally could be as high as 2,000. Though official numbers state about 50,000 Haitians have been stricken by the disease, Fisher believes the true number could be closer to 70,000.
"If we don't move — we, the whole community and national counterparts — don't accelerate the process, we could see deaths going above 10,000 or so."
While additional funds are necessary to combat the outbreak, Fisher said the key to tackling the treatable disease are setting up more treatment centres and moving resources from future projects and reconstruction to cholera.
"This today is the most urgent crisis Haiti is facing," he said. "Put the resources in now. Let's worry about next year next year."
UN Urges Cholera Funds Now: “Let's worry about next year next year.”
The UN General Assembly is set to have a post-elections discussion on Haiti on December 3. No doubt the UN will again urge the international community to contribute to its emergency fund to fight cholera – an appeal that has largely fallen on deaf ears. As CBC reported yesterday: