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Supplies 'running out' in fight against cholera

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Supplies 'running out' in fight against cholera

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While praising the international effort to help Haiti after January’s earthquake, Elisabeth Byrs from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs tells euronews that there is still an urgent need for supplies to combat the cholera epidemic.
 
euronews:
What obstacles do you face in trying to curb the cholera epidemic? 
 
Elisabeth Byrs:
Despite the difficulties and the rising number of cases, our response has been fast and fairly efficient – involving us, the Haitian authorities, NGOs and countries working together on the ground. We’ve avoided lots of deaths: admittedly the number of cases is going up… now we’re having to deal with increasingly serious cases in an epidemic that’s spreading, for the disease is highly contagious.
 
euronews:
What do you lack on the ground?
 
Elisabeth Byrs:
The stocks that we had are beginning to run out. We need more medical staff, we need around 15 nurses for each doctor, we need more trained staff – and also more medicine, more rehydration salts, everything that’s needed to treat cholera. We also lack plastic mattresses, plastic tarpaulins – and unfortunately, body bags.
 
euronews:
After January’s earthquake, the stunned international community pledged to pay almost $10 billion in aid. And yet only part has been paid. $5.3 billion should have been paid, and hasn’t. Leaving the emotion aside, has Haiti been forgotten?  
 
Elisabeth Byrs:
Of the UN’s appeal for $1.4 billion, launched after the earthquake, 73% has been paid, which isn’t bad. But it will need a lot more, the effort must continue, I think that donating countries responded well to the UN appeal and must carry on doing so. I know there was the impact of the financial crisis, add to that the floods in Pakistan – and the humanitarian budget of donating countries is really stretched to the limits.
 
euronews:
This week the Haitian Michaelle Jean was appointed Unesco’s special envoy to Haiti. She said international aid had transformed the country into “a vast laboratory of trial and error”. Haiti no longer has its head above water. Why isn’t it working?
 
Elisabeth Byrs:
I think the international community has made every possible effort since the earthquake. We were already in a situation of extreme poverty when it struck in January. After the earthquake we then had Hurricane Tomas which sped up cholera infection via torrential rain. I think it’s wrong to say that it’s a laboratory of trial and error. The Haitian authorities were also hard hit by the earthquake, the government and public services had to get back on their feet. It’s a long process, it will take an enormous amount of time, and I believe the international community has done what it could.
 
Elisabeth Byrs of the United Nations OCHA was speaking from Geneva to Laurence Alexandrowicz.