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UNICEF study shows children account for 40% of cholera cases in Haiti – SABC News


About two-fifths of Haiti’s growing number of cholera cases are among children, the United Nations children’s agency warned Wednesday, saying young people who suffer from severe malnutrition are three times more likely to die from the bacterial disease.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, has suffered a series of disasters in recent years, including the assassination of its president last year, followed by a massive earthquake.

Cholera re-emerged in the Caribbean island nation in early October after nearly three years of no reported cases, amid shortages of food and clean drinking water caused by a gang blockade of a major fuel port.

“I was shocked to see so many children at risk of dying in treatment centers from cholera,” UNICEF emergency program director Manuel Fontaine said in a statement after a four-day visit to Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.

Fontaine pointed to the “triple threat” of malnutrition, cholera and armed violence, the first two being “a deadly combination, one leading to the other”.

Usually spread through contaminated water, cholera causes diarrhea and vomiting and killed about 10,000 people in a 2010 outbreak blamed on UN peacekeepers.

The disease affects both children and adults and can lead to death within hours if left untreated.

Although life-saving treatment is simple and affordable, Fontaine said it is difficult to access in areas of the capital: “With widespread armed violence and a lack of security in much of the capital, humanitarian groups are walking on eggshells.”

This week, the Pan American Health Organization reported 216 deaths from the disease, 961 confirmed cases and another 12,016 suspected cases, mostly around the capital Port-au-Prince.

He also confirmed a second imported case in the Dominican Republic, a 4-year-old boy from Port-au-Prince.

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