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World Bank aims grant at Haiti's cholera epidemic

WASHINGTON, Tuesday 18 January 2011 (AFP) - The World Bank's board of directors on Tuesday approved a $15 million grant to help Haiti fight the cholera epidemic ravaging the impoverished country, the development lender said.

The World Bank said the new project "will boost the country's medical response to the disease while expanding its capacity to monitor and prevent such outbreaks."

The program is part of the World Bank’s $479 million reconstruction support following the devastating earthquake a year ago that left about one million people homeless and living in shelters in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.

Citing the latest United Nations data, the World Bank said that since the onset of the epidemic in October, about 149,000 cholera cases have been reported in Haiti and more than 3,000 people have died.

"Haiti needs all the help it can get to respond to the deadly cholera epidemic which is ravaging parts of the country," Ronald Baudin, Haiti’s finance minister, said in the statement.

The $15 million grant is aimed at quickly containing the spread of the deadly disease by financing public and non-public efforts "on the ground" to respond to emergency cholera needs, including urgent care and treatment and preventive measures, the bank said.

The new funding also will strengthen the government's emergency response capacity.

"Key to the success of these efforts is the joint response to the emergency, involving not only agencies and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) but, especially, the Haitians themselves," said Alexandre Abrantes, the World Bank's special envoy to Haiti.

Abrantes said the new grant also will be used to contract experienced NGOs for immediate cholera response activities.

Haiti's January 12, 2010 earthquake crippled the country's public infrastructure, killing up to 30 percent of Haiti's most senior public officials, while destroying or putting out of commission water and sanitation systems, the World Bank said.

"One year later, the displaced are still living in temporary camps, with unsafe water and sanitation, a breeding ground for cholera."

MySinchew 2011.01.19


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