Tuesday, December 07, 2010

French scientist confirms Haiti cholera source from UN peacekeeping base

A report commissioned by the Haitian government has confirmed the public's suspicions as to the source of the cholera outbreak. A French scientist says the source of the outbreak was from U.N. peacekeepers that arrived from Nepal. The public suspicions turned violent weeks ago as riots were aimed at the U.N. peacekeeping base that boarders the Artibonite river.

From this Associated Press article that we found at Google News, we read more about the report's conclusions.

Epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux, who studied the outbreak for the Haitian and French governments, concluded that there was no doubt that the cholera originated in contaminated water next to a U.N. base outside the town of Mirebalais along a tributary to Haiti's Artibonite river.

"No other hypothesis could be found to explain the outbreak of a cholera epidemic in this village ... not affected by the earthquake earlier this year and located dozens of kilometers from the coast and (quake refugee tent) camps," he wrote in a report that has not yet been publicly released.

The AP obtained a copy from an international official who released it on condition of anonymity. Piarroux declined in an e-mail interview to discuss his findings.

The French Foreign Ministry confirmed that Dr. Renaud Piarroux's report has been completed and sent to officials in Haiti and at the United Nations. France commmissioned the report at Haiti's request.

The report calls for a further investigation of the outbreak and improved medical surveillance and sanitation procedures for U.N. peacekeeping troops.

Many Haitians suspect that the Nepalese troops were the source of the outbreak, and anger at the troops sparked a week of violent riots, but the French scientist's report is the first scientific study linking the base to cholera.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Heifer International (HI) is an organization that claims to work against world hunger by donating animals to families in developing countries. Its catalog deceptively portrays beautiful children holding cute animals in seemingly humane circumstances. The marketing brochure for HI does not show the animals being transported, their living and slaughter conditions, or the erosion, pollution and water use caused by the introduction of these animals and their offspring.

By definition, animals raised for food are exploited in a variety of ways. The animals shipped to developing countries are often subject to; water and food shortages, cruel procedures without painkillers, lack of veterinary care resulting in extended suffering as a result of illness or injury.

A large percentage of the families receiving animals from HI are struggling to provide for themselves and cannot ensure adequate living conditions, nutrition, and medical care for animals they have been given. HI provides some initial veterinary training to individuals and the initial vaccines. But, long term care for these animals and their offspring is up to the individuals.

To make matters worse, animal agriculture causes much more harm to the environment than plant-based agriculture. The fragile land in many of the regions HI is sending the animals cannot support animal agriculture. Although they say they encourage cut and carry feeding of the animals to avoid erosion, the reality is often quite different.

The consumption of animal products has been shown in reputable studies to contribute significantly to life-threatening diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and a variety of cancers. Regions that have adopted a diet with more animal products see an increase in these diseases. The remote communities supposedly served by HI have no way of dealing with the health consequences of joining the high-cholesterol world.

While it may seem humane and sustainable to provide just one or two dairy cows here or there, the long term consequences are an increased desire for animal products in local cultures leading to an increase in production. These communities may be able to absorb the additional water use of one or two cows, what happens when there are hundreds or thousands of dairy cows, each consuming 27 to 50 gallons of fresh water and producing tons of excrement? The heavy cost to animals, the environment and local economies is not figured into HI's business practices.