USAID and World Vision join coalition to eliminate cholera from Haiti and the Dominican Republic

By World Vision, Christian Post On July 1, 2013

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and World Vision today became the newest members of the Regional Coalition on Water and Sanitation to Eliminate Cholera in Hispaniola, an alliance of more than 20 agencies and associations that are supporting efforts by the governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic to eliminate the transmission of cholera.

Representatives of USAID and World Vision signed a declaration at the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) pledging to work with other coalition members to achieve "water and sanitation for all" in Haiti and the Dominican Republic and calling on other members of the international community to increase funding for these efforts.

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"USAID is proud to join this coalition and will continue our efforts to end cholera in Hispaniola," said Beth Hogan, USAID's acting assistant administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean. "We provide access to health care to approximately half of the Haitian population and will continue critical services such as prevention and treatment of diarrheal diseases, including cholera, and education on hygiene issues as part of this effort."

"World Vision sees access to clean drinking water, hygienic living and sanitary conditions as a basic human right that all people should enjoy," said Dennis Cherian, senior director of health and HIV/AIDS at World Vision. "Today, by entering into this partnership, we are joining like-minded organizations to leverage resources, experiences and skills needed to strengthen water and sanitation facilities and public health systems in Haiti and the Dominican Republic."

Since the cholera epidemic began in October 2010, more than 650,000 people have fallen ill in Haiti, and more than 8,000 have lost their lives. In the Dominican Republic, more than 29,000 have fallen ill, and more than 430 have died.

"The only way to control cholera and eventually eliminate its transmission is through major improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure," said Jon Andrus, PAHO deputy director. "This coalition is committed to supporting Haiti and the Dominican Republic as they work toward these goals."

In January 2012, the governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic - with support from PAHO/WHO, UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - issued a "call to action" for the international community to help bring Haiti up to regional levels of water and sanitation coverage as the best way to halt the epidemic.

Currently, only 69% of Haitians have access to improved drinking water, and only 32% have access to improved sanitation. In contrast, in Latin America and the Caribbean as a whole, 94% have access to improved drinking water, and 82% have access to improved sanitation (WHO/UNICEF, 2011).

Following the "call to action," both Haiti and the Dominican Republic developed and presented national action plans that outline investments and actions needed to halt transmission of cholera by 2022.

Haiti's plan seeks to bring access to drinking water up to at least 85% and access to improved sanitation to at least 90% by 2022. The Dominican Republic's plan seeks to improve drinking water quality and increase access to sanitation services for the estimated 500,000 people (9.6% of the population) currently without such services.

The Regional Coalition has mobilized more than $29 million in new funds for the plans' implementation, however, much more will be needed. Haiti's plan projects $2.2 billion in costs over the next 10 years, including $443.7 million over the next two years, while the Dominican Republic's plan calls for a total $77 million in investments, including $33 million over the next two years.

"We in the Regional Coalition urge members of the international community to step up to the plate with the full funding these plans require," said Andrus.

The members of the Regional Coalition are:

World Vision