U.N. calls for aid in Haitian cholera outbreak

As the death toll for the Haitian cholera epidemic has reached 1,882, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has reiterated an appeal for more money to fight the disease that has infected nearly 85,000 people.

A previously plea for $164 million in mid-November was only around 20 percent funded, CNN reports.

At the beginning of the epidemic, the disease was claiming the lives of up to nine percent of hospitalized patients, which has since lowered to approximately 3.5 percent, according to the Pan American Health Organization.

“This is progress,” Deputy Director Dr. Jon K. Andrus said, according to CNN. “There are still too many deaths, and we face challenges. But the hard work of Haitian doctors, nurses and community workers and their partners in the international community is, in fact, saving many lives.”

Secretary General Ban, however, warned that the numbers are only rough estimates and that the disease may still infect as many as 650,000 people.

“Clearly it will continue to spread,” Ban said, CNN reports. “Unfortunately, this is a function of a particularly virulent strain of cholera as well as underlying issues: a weak national health system, poor sanitary conditions, and the lack of clean water and other basic services. Without a massive and immediate international response, we will be overwhelmed.”

Cholera symptoms include acute diarrhea, vomiting and leg cramps, which lead to a loss of bodily fluids, dehydration and shock. An untreated patient may die within hours. Ban believes the most pressing need is for more treatment facilities and trained personnel.

“This will not be a short-term crisis,” Ban said, according to CNN. "We cannot think short-term in our response. The people of Haiti deserve nothing less.”