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UN seeks funding to counter cholera in Haiti

By Nelson A. King From Caribbean Life

The United Nations deputy chief on Wednesday called on member states to fund the organization’s new strategy to counter cholera in Haiti, stressing that the initiative is facing a critical shortage of resources.

“Without additional resources, the intensified cholera response and control efforts cannot be sustained through 2017 and 2018,” said Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed during an informal briefing to the General Assembly on the UN’s latest report on the strategy.

“Without your political will and financial support, we have only good intentions and words,” she added.

Last December, then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon put forward a “New Approach to Cholera in Haiti” to demonstrate the organization’s commitment to the elimination of the disease, the UN said.

Ban also apologized to the Haitian people on behalf of the United Nations, stating that the organization simply had not done enough with regard to the cholera outbreak and its spread in Haiti and that it was profoundly sorry for its role.

The UN said the new approach has two tracks: Track 1 involves intensifying the organization’s efforts in order to reduce and ultimately end the transmission of cholera, improve access to care and treatment and address the longer-term issues of water, sanitation and health systems in Haiti.

Track 2 is a package that will provide material assistance and support to those Haitians most directly affected by cholera, the UN said.

“Secretary-General António Guterres is strongly committed to taking forward the ‘New Approach,’” Mohammed said.

The UN said that in the weeks following Hurricane Matthew last October, the number of suspected cholera cases increased.

However, it said the number of suspected cases has since declined significantly.

As of May 27, the Haiti Ministry of Health reported 6,762 suspected cases, compared to 16,822 at the same time last year, Mohammed said.

The vaccination campaign being carried out by the Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) is “well advanced,” and is expected to reach 85 per cent of the 700,000 target by the end of this month, the UN said.

It said the next campaign, scheduled for the last quarter of 2017, aims to vaccinate 2.6 million people in the French-speaking Caribbean country’s most vulnerable areas.

As of April 20, the UN said voluntary contributions to the UN Cholera Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund totaled about US$2.7 million from seven Member States, namely Chile, France, India, Liechtenstein, South Korea, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom, “against the envisaged expenditure of US$400 million over two years.”

Outside of the Trust Fund, the UN said Canada and Japan, committed nearly US$7 million.

The fund has also received about US$17,000 from UN staff members and private donors, the UN said.

However, it said three projects, which together cost US$2.5 million, have nearly depleted the Trust Fund, which now has just US$183,000. No new contributions have been received, the UN said.

It said the Secretary-General proposes to address the need for resources in several ways, including the soon-be-announced appointment of a high-level envoy to develop a comprehensive fundraising strategy to seek additional voluntary contributions from member states and other sources.

The Secretary-General and Mohammed will continue to use their own interactions with world leaders to urge them to provide further voluntary financial and other appropriate support, the UN said.

It said the Secretary-General has asked Member States to consider voluntarily waiving the return of the 2015-2016 unencumbered balances and credits from miscellaneous income and adjustments from the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, a peacekeeping mission known as MINUSTAH, and instead direct them to the Trust Fund.

Those balances total US$40.5 million, Mohammed said.

UN General Assembly President Peter Thomson said “much remains to be done to eliminate cholera in Haiti, and help move the country from fragility to sustainable development and economic growth.

“If we are to live together as good neighbors and employ our international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples, here is a prime opportunity for good action,” he said.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed (left) briefs member states on the United Nations’ New Approach to Cholera in Haiti. General Assembly President Peter Thomson is seated right.

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