UN agencies scale up response to Haiti cholera outbreak

The United Nations and partners are scaling up aid to Haiti, which has been hit with a spreading cholera outbreak, a UN spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the regional office for the Americas of the World Health Organization, continues to support Haiti’s Ministry of Health in epidemiological surveillance, said Stephanie Tremblay, an associate spokeswoman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

PAHO, reporting the outbreak spread last week beyond the metropolitan area of the capital Port-au-Prince, is distributing medical equipment and therapeutics to the 20 cholera centers operating in the country, Tremblay said.

The health agency said cases were confirmed in two departments: nine in Artibonite and 34 in Centre. Suspected cases continue to be investigated in other departments, especially Nippes, with 40 suspected cases.

A suspected imported case in the neighboring Dominican Republic turned out to be of the 2010 cholera strain that killed almost 10,000 people in Haiti, PAHO said, citing the Dominican Health Ministry’s national laboratory.

Haiti’s Health Ministry reported about 3,500 suspected cases tallied at the end of last month and 400 confirmed cases, PAHO said.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and PAHO reported transporting approximately 14 metric tons of critical supplies from Panama City, Panama, to Port-au-Prince for the PAHO and UNICEF cholera response, she said.

The spokeswoman said that since mid-September, the World Food Programme (WFP) reached more than 71,000 people with various assistance, distributing close to 600,000 U.S. dollars in cash and 530 metric tons of food. The WFP delivered more than 43,000 hot meals to internally displaced people at hosting sites and cholera treatment centers in Port-au-Prince.

Tremblay said that the WFP supported 24 of its humanitarian partners with fuel, and its UN Humanitarian Air Service has flown more than 200 missions to aid the response effort.

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