21 Nov 2010

MSF criticises response to cholera outbreak in Haiti

6:34 am on 21 November 2010

Aid organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres has criticised the response to the cholera outbreak in Haiti that has so far killed nearly 1200 people.

The organisation says the needs of the population aren't being met, despite a huge presence of international organisations in Haiti.

It called for swift action to build latrines, provide safe water supplies, remove bodies and reassure frightened people that the disease is treatable reports the BBC.

The UN has called for an end to cholera protests across the country, saying they are costing lives.

Edmond Mulet, the head of the UN mission in Haiti, says demonstrators must stop blocking roads, bridges and airports so that vital humanitarian assistance can reach the thousands of people affected by the epidemic.

Humanitarian workers say the protests have eased a little but the aid agencies are still not working in the northern city of Cap Haitien, where the major violence erupted this week.

The UN has said that the demonstrations, some of which accused the UN peacekeepers of introducing the disease to Haiti, are being orchestrated, ahead of elections.

"If this situation continues, more and more patients in desperate need of care are likely to die and more and more Haitians awaiting access to preventive care may be overtaken by the epidemic," warned Mr Mulet.

UN agencies have made several pleas for an end to the violence which they have said is threatening lives as the epidemic spreads.

Cholera now in Haiti's largest jail

The cholera outbreak in Haiti has spread to the country's largest jail, the national prison in Port-au-Prince.

The head of Haiti's prison service says 30 inmates have been infected and 13 have died in recent days.

There are fears that the death toll could rise substantially in the overcrowded facility, which houses about 2000 prisoners, the BBC reports.