The death toll from the cholera outbreak in Haiti is rising. It is estimated that some 800 people have died from the disease so far, and the total is growing rapidly.
There are more than 11,000 registered cases, and hospitals are overflowing. It is the first outbreak of cholera in Haiti in a century according the World Health Organisation.
The poor nation does not have the economic and social infrastructure necessary to provide a normal standard of living for its population – and that was before the earthquake struck last January. Since then more than one million people have been living in unsanitary conditions under canvas in crowded refugee camps.
Life in the camps were made worse by flooding after Hurricane Tomas hit the island last month. Now the authorities fear a cholera epidemic. The bacterial disease is carried in contaminated water and, of course, clean water is in short supply.
Many are losing hope and asking why, nearly a year after the earthquake, the situation remains so desperate. Rubble continues to dominate much of the landscape in the capital Port-au-Prince, and an estimated 1.3 million Haitians cannot see a time when they will not be living in tents. Many lost limbs and livelihoods in the earthquake and are struggling for survival.
Some 10,000 NGOs are working in Haiti but of the 10 billion dollars of aid pledged after the earthquake, less than half has actually been paid out. For countries still struggling to get over the global recession, Haiti is not their number one priority.
Elections scheduled for the end of the month are still on track, although many Haitians feel that rebuilding the country and tackling the cholera outbreak should take priority over re-electing the government.