Haitian president-elect vows to fight cholera

Haiti’s President-elect Michel Martelly announced on Thursday that he will do whatever is needed to stop the threat of the looming cholera outbreak.

An influx of cholera cases since March has caused concern that a much larger outbreak is on the horizon.

Dr. Sanjay Basu, a UCSF researcher, has forecasted that approximately 780,000 people could be infected between March and November of this year, WashingtonExaminer.com reports.

The initial cholera outbreak occurred in October and has claimed the lives of nearly 5,000 people, according to the WHO.

In order to implement a sufficient vaccine program to effectively stop the outbreak, Haiti would need to provide two doses of the vaccine to each one of the nearly 10 million people that populate the island. This demand, however, far exceeds the supply.

“We can safely say there is nowhere near 20 million doses of cholera vaccine available in the world at the present,” Dr. Eric Mintz, a representative for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, according to WashingtonExaminer.com.

A WHO-backed plan to curtail the waterborne disease by administering the vaccine to those areas most at risk was thwarted last year due to political officials fearing this would seem unfair to the public, WashingtonExaminer.com reports.  

Currently, Dukoral is the only approved vaccine for cholera. Shanchol, an alternative vaccine that is considered cheaper and easier to administer, has yet to receive approval from the WHO.