WASHINGTON, Sept 19, CMC – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping says it will provide support to Haiti and the Dominican Republic in the ongoing efforts to eliminate cholera in the two countries.
CARICOM Deputy Secretary-General, Ambassador Lolita Applewhaite, signed a declaration on Tuesday committing the 15-member regional grouping to join the international effort in the new “Regional Coalition on Water and Sanitation for the Elimination of Cholera” on two countries that make up Hispaniola.
CARICOM says it will support the efforts by the governments of the two countries to harmonize and streamline international assistance and investments in water and sanitation infrastructure aimed at eliminating cholera and to “work… in solidarity, towards the steady improvement of universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation in Haiti and Dominican Republic”.
The Coalition was launched in Salvador, Bahia, in June and is aimed at harnessing the necessary technical expertise, raising new funds, and mobilizes previously committed pledges to fight cholera in the two Caribbean countries.
The World Bank and the International Red Cross Federation have also signed the accord.
Ambassador Applewhaite said that the initiative would further consolidate the region’s efforts to address the public health challenge posed by the cholera epidemic in Haiti, following the January 2010 earthquake.
More than 7,000 people have died and 500,000 others have become ill in Haiti ever since the first case of cholera was detected here last October. The Dominican Republic has reported more than 21,000 cases and over 400 deaths.
“To date, the adverse dwelling conditions in and around the capital city of Haiti continue and remain a challenge in the absence of any reliable form of potable water for the vulnerable in that well known tented situation,” said Ambassador Applewhaite, who noted that the situation had made it difficult to contain the cholera outbreak in the country.
“The countries of the region of the Americas, supported by PAHO (Pan American Health Organisation) and the international financial institutions, turned back the 1990 cholera threat. We have done this before and are committed to working with our partners to do it again,” she said.
PAHO said that even before the January 2010 earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people and destroyed a number of buildings in Haiti, only 69 per cent of the population had access to safe drinking water.
It said access to sanitation had declined from 26 per cent of the population in 1990 to 17 per cent in 2010. In the Dominican Republic, 86 per cent of the population had access to improved drinking water sources and 83 per cent had access to improved sanitation in 2010.