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PAHO/WHO on Haiti: Things are looking up
On the third anniversary of the January 12, 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti killing more than 200,000 people and leaving some 1.5 million homeless, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) is reporting progress being made in recovery and reconstruction efforts.
A significant achievement is that the cholera epidemic case-fatality rate has been cut by half since the outbreak in October 2010. So said PAHO consultant and health systems and services consultant Dr Carlene Radix. Speaking to the T&T Guardian by telephone on the eve of the anniversary of the day Haiti was struck by the magnitude seven earthquake, she said: “The cholera epidemic fatality rate has dropped significantly in Haiti.”
“The case-fatality rate has been halved from a high of 2.4 per cent of Haitians who have died from cholera in 2010 down to 1.2 per cent in 2012. “While levels have been halved, it’s still an ongoing issue that needs to be addressed.” A January 7 PAHO cholera update said the death toll from the epidemic was almost 8,000 and more than six per cent of Haitians were afflicted with the disease.
It added fatalities in Haiti reached 7,912 at December 31, out of 635,980 cases and 350,679 hospitalisations. PAHO's news release listed the achievements and challenges of the UN relief efforts in Haiti in 2012. It said Haiti had made significant progress toward meeting the health and development needs of its population, but enormous challenges remain.
Dr Jean Luc Poncelet, manager of PAHO’s Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief programme was reported as saying, “Water and sanitation are key factors to ensure the elimination of transmission of cholera in Haiti.” Other challenges for Haiti’s reconstruction include “building back better,” said Poncelet. That means ensuring that new buildings and public works infrastructure are built to withstand the impact of earthquakes and other disasters.
PAHO/WHO have been reportedly working with Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health to ensure that hospitals and other health facilities are built or repaired to be safe in the event of future disasters. T&T Guardian reporter Michelle Loubon flies to Haiti on Monday to report on the country’s recovery from the earthquake three years ago. —with reporting by Charles Kon Soo
Progress made so far in recovery and reconstruction efforts include:
• Housing solutions provided to more than 158,000 families affected by the earthquake
•Twenty thousand families returned to their neighbourhoods
•Nearly three million children under ten vaccinated against polio, measles and rubella
•More than 470,000 temporary jobs (40 per cent of them occupied by women) and 20,000 permanent jobs created
•Nearly 200 schools completed with water and sanitation facilities in earthquake-affected areas
•Eighty per cent of debris removed.
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