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WBG President Kim Calls for Renewed International Support to Help Haiti Overcome Cholera

April 11, 2014

Washington, April 11, 2014 – World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim today called for renewed commitments from international partners and a roadmap for integrated health, water and sanitation investments in support of Haiti’s National Cholera Elimination Plan. 

“Cholera can be eliminated in Haiti. We need to do much more to strengthen Haitian institutions and support the Government’s cholera elimination plan,” Kim said. “This will require an integrated multi-sector approach that prioritizes improvements in water and health programs for the most vulnerable people.” 

While the number of cases has been dramatically cut since the beginning of the outbreak in October 2010 – from a monthly average of more than 35,000 cases in the first year of the epidemic to around 4,900 in 2013 – Haiti still has the highest number of cholera cases in the world. 

Speaking at a technical session with leading cholera experts during the World Bank Group and IMF Spring Meetings, Kim called for a renewed sense of urgency, more coordination and a clearer understanding of the remaining obstacles to stop the epidemic. “Without stepping up our efforts during the hardest stretch of this fight, we risk having another outbreak,”   Kim warned. Much progress has been made, but there is a clear shortfall of resources. We need to come up with a solution that is equal to the challenge.”

The Haitian government's US$ 2.2 billion 10-year plan to eliminate cholera, launched in February 2013, broadly outlines investments needed in water and sanitation as well as prevention, surveillance, and case management.

During the meeting, World Bank Group specialists discussed with representatives of the Haitian government, key partners and leading international experts how best practices in Bangladesh, Peru, and other countries could be applied to develop a results-oriented investment roadmap for the international community to support.

“The interaction with the panel of experts really showed us that it is possible to eliminate cholera in Haiti. The fight we are leading in Haiti is not in vain. We learned a lot and this will really help Haiti step up its efforts to control and eliminate this epidemic,” said Lionel Duvalsaint, Director General of the National Department for Water and Sanitation DINEPA, Haiti.

Even before the devastating January 2010 earthquake, Haiti had the lowest levels of water and sanitation coverage in the Americas, with only 69 percent of the population having access to safe drinking water, and 27 percent to improved sanitation. These conditions increased the risk of the spread of cholera.

Next week, the Coalition for the elimination of cholera in Hispaniola will be meeting with key practitioners in Port-au-Prince to review recent experiences in the fight against cholera. 

Contacts:

In Washington: Christelle Chapoy, (202) 361 4255, cchapoy@worldbank.org

In Port-au-Prince: Berdine Edmond (509) 31 064 831, bedmond@worldbank.org

Background on how the World Bank is helping address the cholera epidemic

The World Bank Group has been financing a cholera emergency response (US$ 15 million, completed in 2013), ongoing cholera prevention and treatment activities (US$ 20 million) complemented by health sector support work focused in maternal and child health (US$ 70 million) and is preparing a new water project (US$ 30 million) targeting high incidence zones for cholera in 2014.

 Among the concrete results achieved so far:

 ·         Three million people have benefited from prevention education campaigns, training, and treatment.

·         Over 6,000 health workers and medical personnel were trained.

In addition, the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program is also bringing additional support and expertise on hygiene promotion and excreta management, as well as the development of a national hand-washing campaign. 

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, is investing in the provision of affordable water for sale to underserved neighborhoods in Port au Prince, which soon will across the country.

Learn more about the work of the World Bank in Latin America and the Caribbean: www.worldbank.org/lac

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PRESS RELEASE NO:
2014/438/LAC