U.S. physician named envoy to Haiti for cholera epidemic

U.S. physician Paul Farmer was recently appointed as the United Nations Special Adviser for Community-Based Medicine and Lessons from Haiti as part of efforts to fight cholera.

"U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed renowned United States physician Paul Farmer to help galvanize support to eliminate cholera in Haiti, where the disease has already claimed over 7,750 lives," the U.N. News Center said. "He will also be charged with advising 'on lessons learned' from the epidemic and 'how those can be applied in Haiti and other settings.'"

Farmer is currently the head of Harvard University's Department of Global Health and Social Medicine. He served as deputy to the U.N. special envoy for Haiti from 2009 to 2012.

Ban recently launched a new anti-cholera initiative in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The U.N. is calling for $2.2 billion to finance a campaign to halt the epidemic, which has exceeded 620,000 cases since it began in October 2010. The epidemic has been widely blamed on U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal who entered Haiti as part of a mission to stabilize the country after a severe earthquake.

A U.N. investigation found that there was no way to determine exactly what caused the epidemic, but a number experts, including some from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, believe it is likely the epidemic started as a result of the peacekeeping mission.