Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Riots preventing health care from reaching cholera patients

The rioting in Cap-Haitien, Haiti has prevented cholera patients from receiving much needed care. Most humanitarian aid workers have stopped providing services until the risk subsides. OXFAM has stopped a water purification program, and flights carrying medicine and medical supplies have been halted.

From Reuters Alert Net, we read more about this consequence of the rioting.

Riots that flared on Monday have forced the United Nations to ground flights carrying soap, medical supplies and staff to Cap-Haitien and Port de Paix, cities in a northern region where the cholera fatality rate is highest.

The violence in Cap-Haitien saw protesters burn and loot 500 tonnes of food from a World Food Programme warehouse.

The insecurity, which restricted movement in Haiti's second city, also forced aid agency Oxfam to suspend a project to chlorinate water for 300,000 people, and the World Health Organisation to stop training medical staff, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement.

Oxfam said its staff were on standby to resume operations as soon as possible. Demonstrators who have set up roadblocks are preventing people from getting to hospital for treatment, it added.

The hindrances to aid work come at a time when medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is warning that the outbreak is stretching it and other relief groups to the limit. It has called for other organisations to step in to help tackle water, hygiene, sanitation and medical issues.

"MSF is worried about the limited response to the epidemic," Stefano Zannini, MSF's head of mission in Haiti, told AlertNet. "More medical staff are arriving, but there's a chronic lack of personnel here in Haiti and we are close to being overwhelmed."

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