UN appeals for funds to prevent Haiti cholera jump

27th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

The UN called on donors to urgently fund its emergency appeal to help Haiti deal with a cholera epidemic, warning Friday that inaction could lead to a ten-fold rise in the number of people infected.

"On the appeal for 164 million dollars, we are today still at 19.4 million dollars," said Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

"It's very slow. We must continue to be vigilent to avoid having to deal with the worst-case scenario as seen by the World Health Organisation of around 400,000 people who could be affected," she added.

Haitian authorities said the cholera epidemic, which began in mid-October, has killed at least 1,603 people and left around 30,000 hospitalised.

Officials in the neighboring Dominican Republic meanwhile discovered a potential fifth case of the disease on Friday when a seven-year-old girl tested positive in a preliminary exam.

The WHO had previously planned for a worst-case scenario of 200,000 cases in Haiti, but the UN said that the epidemic has developed more quickly than expected.

The Pan American Health Organization, the regional branch of the WHO, has warned the number of cases could climb to 200,000 in three months, and that within a year this figure could rise to 400,000.

"We can avoid this worst-case scenario. It is avoidable with a rapid financing of 164 million," said Byrs, stressing the urgency of containing the epidemic.

The UN said aid agencies are in urgent need of new treatment centres and also require rehydration centres, trained personnel and relief supplies.

© 2010 AFP

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