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UN final report: Cholera in Haiti brought in by blue helmet soldiers
When cholera broke out in Haiti last year after the earthquake disaster, the population quickly blamed the blue helmet soldiers for the onset of the disease. Rightly so, as the studies carried out on behalf of the United Nations by an international team of experts now confirm.
Cholera has been raging in Haiti since October 2010. According to the Haitian Ministry of Health, more than 157,000 people fell ill with the infectious disease cholera by the turn of the year, and 3,500 people died as a result of a cholera infection. Overall, the cholera epidemic in Haiti, which continues to this day, has claimed almost 5,000 lives and around 300,000 people have been infected. Now, experts from the United Nations have confirmed that the epidemic could have been avoided because the pathogens were brought in from Nepal by UN peacekeepers.
Cholera pathogen from Nepal brought in by blue helmet soldiers When searching for the causes of the cholera epidemic in Haiti on behalf of the United Nations, scientists from Bangladesh, India, Peru and the USA come to the conclusion in their 32-page report that the pathogens of the blue helmet soldiers of MINUSTAH, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (French: “Mission des Nations Unies pour la stabilization en Haïti”) from Nepal. Due to the unfavorable hygienic conditions on site, the pathogens were able to spread rapidly and caused the cholera epidemic, which continues to this day, according to the experts.
Leaking latrines in the camp of the UN blue helmets as a cause of infection? The first cholera infection after the Haiti earthquake disaster was registered on October 17, 2010 in the small town of Mirebalais. From the town above the Artibonite River, the infections initially spread along the river to the Artibonite estuary, 80 kilometers northwest. The accusation of the population in the province of Artibonite, north of Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince, has been directed against the UN's blue helmet soldiers from the start. This would have contaminated the river with faeces in her camp in Mirebalais and thus caused the outbreak of the plague. What at first seemed unlikely to international observers has now been confirmed by the experts from the United Nations. The triggering cholera pathogen came from Nepal and was brought in by the soldiers, the United Nations said. Due to the insufficient latrine situation, the pathogens could get into the river water with faeces and thus cause the devastating cholera epidemic, the scientists explained. However, they released the United Nations from direct guilt because the latrines were constructed and maintained by a local company.
Cholera vaccination and antibiotics for UN blue helmets In order to avoid an outbreak of cholera caused by UN soldiers in the future, the expert panel in its final report on the cholera epidemic in Haiti recommends that the UN blue helmets be used from now on to ensure that transmission of the Pathogens from other regions of the world can be excluded. For this, staff from cholera areas should be vaccinated before use and treated with antibiotics as a precaution, the experts explained. In addition, the establishment and maintenance of the hygiene facility, and in particular the latrines, should use its own trained personnel. In order to prevent the spread of pathogens, the faeces should also be chemically processed before disposal and all pathogens should be killed. Incidents like the one in Haiti not only undermine the trust of the local population in the aid workers of the UN, but in the worst case cost thousands of lives. (fp)
Haiti: 3,000 killed by cholera epidemic
Image: Dieter Schütz / pixelio.de