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More money needed to fight cholera in Haiti, experts say

May 4, 2013 at 1:25 PM

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, May 4 (UPI) -- Health experts say they are frustrated they have yet to receive international aid promised to help combat Haiti's cholera epidemic.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon promised five months ago to lobby for more funding to eliminate cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, The Miami Herald reported Friday.

The number of patients diagnosed with cholera is declining, but Jake Johnston of the Center for Economic and Policy Research said that "isn't a sign of cholera's disappearance, but rather its persistence and the reasons are simple -- funding for the cholera response has greatly declined, and the response capacity has therefore diminished."

"This is now the third year that funding for cholera has diminished prior to the rainy season when cases will predictably spike, leading to more easily preventable and unnecessary deaths," Johnston said.

More than 654,000 people have been infected with cholera in Haiti since 2010 and more than 8,100 have died from the disease, the Herald said.

"With a disease like cholera, the first hours are the most important to save lives and make a significant difference. With a surveillance and alarm system that does not give exact data, more lives are in danger," Oliver Schulz, Doctors Without Borders' Head of Mission in Haiti.

The cholera outbreak followed a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in 2010 that killed more than 200,000 people and left more than a million homeless.

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