Cholera aid to Haiti slowing at critical time

In an interview with Free Speech Radio News, Dr. Charles Patrick Almazor, the director of clinical services in Haiti for Partners in Health, said that aid is drying up at a critical moment.
According to the World Health Organization, cholera cases in Haiti could reach 500,000 by the end of the year. Approximately 6,600 people have died from the outbreak since it began in 2010. Partners in Health was one of the first groups in Haiti to began treating those with cholera, FSRN reports.
"From what we've been seeing over time is a lot of people, a lot of partners who have been helping us to fight against cholera, a lot of them have gone," Almazor said, according to FSRN. "We have fewer cases, but still cholera presents a big burden in Haiti and a lot of partners have left."
According to the United Nations, there were 128 government and non-government organizations providing aid to Haiti at the beginning of the epidemic. Now there are approximately 40 groups providing aid. Almazor said that with the other partners leaving, many cases now have to come to them and their burden has increased.
"When we have cases, they are coming from far away, like from the mountains, walking six to eight hours to come to our facilities," Almazor said, according to FSRN.
Only 30 percent of Haitians have access to sanitation facilities and only 54 percent have access to safe drinking water, according to the UN.
"What we noticed is that it took 200 years to have this structure, this infrastructure for people like latrines and the basic social services, but we still don't have it," Almazor said, according to FSRN. "I don't know if we're going to have to wait 15 to 20 years for this system and in the mean time a lot of people might die. We support having more access to clean water and sanitation for people while at the same time having the cholera vaccine to prevent it in the short term."
Partners in Health will begin an oral vaccine program in January. When asked about how he thought the funding for the disaster and the epidemic should have been used, he said the Haitian government was in dire need of money to attend to its citizens.
"Around one percent of the aid money went through the government to help it to better respond to its citizens needs," Almazor said, according to FSRN. "So, I think more of this funding should go to the government through a transparent mechanism. Not a lot of things have been done. If you go to Haiti, you'll think that the earthquake just happened, which is sad."