UN urges urgent funds to help Haiti fight cholera
The United Nations called Tuesday for urgent funding for Haiti, amid a shortfall in financing to help the country cope with a widening cholera epidemic.
Donors have stumped up only 6.8 million dollars so far out of 164 million dollars sought by the UN in an appeal 10 days ago, said Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
"The funding is much too weak. It's an extremely urgent situation, a question of hours. The epidemic is not waiting and continuing to evolve," she warned.
She added that relief material and medication had to be restocked urgently, and that exhausted aid workers needed some respite.
An average of 130 people are required to run a cholera treatment centre with 100 beds, she explained.
Cholera is still spreading in the island where 23,377 people have been hospitalised and 1,344 have died from the illness, according to data from Haitian authorities.
Some 36 cholera treatment centres are running in Haiti, with 61 smaller units reinforcing their effort.
The UN also stressed that educating the public about the illness was crucial, as some people, including pregnant women, are refusing to go to hospitals for fear of contracting cholera.
© 2010 AFP