[QODLink]
Americas
UN to probe Haiti cholera outbreak
World body is set to launch investigation into source of the epidemic, which many Haitians blame on UN peacekeepers.
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2010 20:41 GMT
Simply setting up clinics to treat Haitians with cholera is not doing enough to tackle the cholera epidemic [Reuters]

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, has announced the creation of an independent panel to investigate Haiti's cholera epidemic, which some Haitians have blamed on UN peacekeepers from Nepal.

More than 2,000 people have been killed since the outbreak began in October, while 91,000 others have needed treatment for the disease. 

"There remain fair questions and legitimate concerns that demand the best answer that science can provide," Ban said.

He told reporters that, after consulting Margaret Chan, the World Health Organisation (WHO) chief, he was setting up an international panel that "will be completely independent and have full access to all UN premises and personnel".

Nepalese blamed

Rumours that a camp used by the Nepalese peacekeepers was the source of the outbreak have prompted large protests by Haitians. Last month, protesters stoned a UN patrol and shouted slogans against the UN mission.

Last week, US researchers reported that the cholera strain came from South Asia and mostly closely resembled one circulating in Bangladesh.

But the United Nations has so far said there is no scientific evidence that the Nepalese battalion is responsible and all tests on its troops have proved negative.

Ban noted that there were several theories on the origins of the cholera outbreak in Haiti and that "not all reports have reached the same conclusion".

"The investigation will help satisfy the need to know for Haitians where this disease came from," Christian Lindmeier, spokesman for the WHO, said.

"But it will not help the response on the ground, which is what all our forces are focused on."

Lindmeier said he expected the WHO to be treating cholera in Haiti for up to 18 more months and estimated that there could be 650,000 cases by mid-2012.

Cholera is caused by a bacterium that thrives in water. It is spread when infected fecal matter gets into unchlorinated water, seafood such as shellfish, or other food.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
In Brussels, NGO staff are being trained to fill the shortfall of field workers in West Africa.
Lawsuit by 6-year-old girl, locked up for a year, reignites debate over indefinite detention of 'boat people'.
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Citizens of the tiny African nation say they're increasingly anxious of the fallout after alleged coup.
A humanitarian crisis and a budget crisis converge in the heart of the human smuggling corridor in Texas.
join our mailing list