U.N. calls Haiti cholera response "shameful"

After receiving only a quarter of the funding it needs to counter the deadly cholera epidemic in Haiti, a United Nations spokeswoman has called the response to its appeal “shameful.”

"Out of the $174 million, the U.N. has only received 44 million or 25 percent of the funds we asked for, although (the situation) is of the utmost urgency," Elisabeth Byrs, the spokeswoman for the U.N. Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told AFP. "It's not moving. It's shameful that we should have so little money for an illness that currently kills in a flash because people don't have rehydration salts."

Cholera is capable of killing through dehydration, causing cases of severe diarrhea.

So far, cholera has left a deadly toll in Haiti. It is believed that at least 3,333 people have died from the disease and a further 150,000 have become infected since it appeared last October, AFP reports. The Pan American Health Organization warned that up to 400,000 people are at risk of becoming infected in the coming year.

Last month, the U.N. had received only 20 percent of the funds it needed.
The OCHA asked for more money from donors in November as health workers sped to stem the rising tide of the outbreak that came only nine months after a devastating earthquake left 250,000 dead and 1.9 million displaced and housed in shanty towns with little in the way of sanitation.

Byrs told AFP that there is a need for greater speed since cholera victims can often be saved with the right amount of care. In 2011, the U.N. will look for an additional $906 million to help Haiti in a request for quake and cholera relief.