Trending Topics

Cuba Fights Cholera Outbreak, as Haiti Tries to Eliminate The Disease

Havana restaurant closed down

As Haiti tries to push the United Nations to accept responsibility for a cholera outbreak that so far has killed 8,000 Haitians and sickened nearly 640,000 people, Cuba is coming to grips with what appears to be the first cholera outbreak there in well over 50 years.

The reintroduction of a disease that has been eradicated in much of the developed world is alarming to world health officials. In Cuba, officials believed they had stopped an outbreak of the disease over the summer. But it appears that another outbreak has occurred in central Havana, apparently killing a man earlier this month.

Cuban officials believe 51 people in Havana have been infected thus far. They believe the disease originated with a foodseller who may have caught it during the previous outbreak in eastern Cuba.

Health workers had noticed an increase in acute diarrhea in some areas and concluded that it was caused by cholera. Doctors have been going door to door in Havana, looking for people who have symptoms. Cuba has one of the most highly regarded healthcare systems in the Western Hemisphere.

In Cerro, the central Havana district where it is believed to have started, cafes and restaurants have been shuttered and patrons can only buy sealed food and drink. Cholera is carried by contaminated food or water, leading to severe dehydration that can prove fatal if untreated.

In Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, the cholera epidemic was  deadly because the population was in fragile state after the earthquake three years ago; there was inadequate infrastructure to deal with it; and Haitians didn’t have an immunity to the disease.

But perhaps most devastating of all, it has since been discovered that the disease had been brought to Haiti by people who were there to help — a U.N. peacekeeping force from Nepal, which had experienced its own cholera outbreak. Scientists determined the Haitians were hit by the same strain of cholera that was in Nepal.

“Part of the reason we think the outbreak grew so quickly was the Haitian population had no immunity to cholera,” says Daniele Lantagne, an environmental engineer at Tufts University. “Something like when the Europeans brought smallpox to the Americas, and it burned through the native populations.”

A Boston-based group, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, filed a legal claim against the U.N. more than a year ago, demanding that it take responsibility for the outbreak. But the U.N. insists that however cholera got to Haiti, it spread because of terrible sanitary conditions and lack of clean water.

Brian Concannon, director of the institute, doesn’t buy the U.N.’s argument and is now trying to decide whether to sue the agency in a court in the United States, Europe or Haiti.

“It’s like lighting a fire in a dry field on a windy day and then blaming the wind or the drought for the fire,” Concannon told NPR.

According to Concannon, the U.N. was supposed to set up a process within the status of forces agreements that governs every peacekeeping operation. The process was to deal with claims of harm — from traffic accidents and alleged rapes involving peacekeeping soldiers to larger allegations. But the U.N. has never set it up, leaving it vulnerable to such claims.

While the U.N. hasn’t admitted anything, last month U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced a plan to eliminate cholera in Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic. But the plan is expected to cost $2.2 billion and take 10 years — and the U.N. has only identified funding for 10 percent of the cost.

Concannon told NPR he worries the rest of the funds may never be found.

What people are saying

10 thoughts on “Cuba Fights Cholera Outbreak, as Haiti Tries to Eliminate The Disease

  1. Joe Kelsall says:

    Haiti is still being puniished for the slave revolt led by Toussant L'Ouverture. The USA is an alleged 'friend of Haiti'; 'alleged' being the operative word! The USA gives Israel, 30 billion dollars a year, yet neglects her neighbour in the Caribbean. Haiti is starving, and if it wasn't for Cuba, many more Haitians would be dead : or is that the USA's plan for Haiti – genocide?

  2. Grétel Martínez says:

    Your usage of genocide is intolerably liberal. If you want the US to give more money to Haiti, use some of your money to effect such a change.

  3. Grétel Martínez says:

    Your usage of "genocide" is intolerably liberal. If you want the United States to give more humanitarian aid to Haiti, use some of your money to effect such a change. Or maybe England should help out. Oh, and while you're at it, send the Cubans in Cuba some money too. Thanks.

  4. Grétel Martínez says:

    "Cuba has one of the most highly regarded healthcare systems in the Western Hemisphere."

    Utter nonsense. Chiles, you've clearly never been to a Cuban hospital. Stop regurgitating Leftist propaganda and corroborate your facts.

  5. Joe Kelsall says:

    I HAVE been to a Cuban hospital and they have better health care that many Americans AND an ingenious method of providing an 'instant hospital' . Gretel Martinez – I did send money for the Haitian appeal and the USA allowed it to be stolen by the crooks who run Haiti. England also helped out with the Haitian disaster. In Liverpool, England, we celebrate the anniversary of the Haitian Slave Revolt of the 23rd August, 1791, annually: it reflects our multiculturalism. Now, Gretel Martinez does not sound like an American name to me, so I expected you to demonstrate a more catholic knowledge of these things.Maybe you were born inthe USA? And, by the way, the American and the token Israel response left with the TV cameras!

  6. Grétel Martínez says:

    First of all, I'm an atheist, so don't bother with that religious bullshit. Second of all, health care is a disaster in Cuba, though doctors are generally well qualified. Third of all, you're a foreigner, so, no, you've never experienced a Cuban hospital. Assuming you've ever even been to Cuba, you've been taken to a foreigner-only hospital, which are MUCH better than hospitals for locals (so much for equality, right?). The conditions of Cuban hospitals are abysmal and don't meet adequate standards. Third of all, Israel rocks, but, in any case, the subject of Israel is off-topic. Fourth, I'm Cuban, born and raised. Don't try to inform me about my OWN country.

  7. Joe Kelsall says:

    Oh.Now I get it: you are a disgruntled emigrant. I sort of figured that. You will, of course,be aware that over 40 million Americans have NO health care. That people in South East Texas are living on fresh air and DON'T have free education even through to University. As for Israel rocking; would you like me to tell you of my travels in Palestine distributing money for Palestinian schools? A country STOLEN by the Zionists with the help of the UK and the USA. Zionists are reincarnated Nazis! Mazel tov!

  8. Gregorisch Jose says:

    Most physicians per capita, yes… Most highly regarded Dr's, probably… Most highly regarded healthcare system… not so much… Back in 2000, the World Health Organization made the first major effort to rank the health systems of 191 nations. France and Italy took the top two spots. The US of A ranked 38th… Cuba 40th… hmmm… Maybe he meant to say the most regarded healthcare system west of the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Gulf of Mexico, south of the Straits of Florida, northwest of the Windward Passage, and northeast of the Yucatan Channel…

  9. Grétel Martínez says:

    (1) You're an incoherent rambler: we were talking about Cuba, not the United States. (2) You're also an anti-Semite. You go ahead and continue bitching and moaning while Israel continues using drones to decimate your beloved Palestinian terrorists. The End.

  10. Joe Kelsall says:

    My dear Gretel, I was just making an analogy between the USA and Cuba; the contry that you deserted. I am an anti Zionist, as are many jews. You will however, find that Palestinians do NOT fear death and that every attack by Israel is good PR for them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top