US$10 million from World Bank to fight cholera

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti: In response to the nation’s cholera outbreak, the World Bank is preparing a US$10 million Cholera Emergency Grant. The outbreak has already caused over 1,200 deaths and could kill thousands more in the coming six to 12 months if the outbreak is not contained, according to figures from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

“Haiti needs all the help it can get to respond to the deadly cholera epidemic which is ravaging parts of the country,” said Ronald Baudin, Haiti’s Minister of Finance. “The support of the World Bank will be key for saving lives and re-establishing the public health service network.”

The grant is being prepared with the government of Haiti and United Nations agencies and is expected to be formally submitted to the Board of Directors of the World Bank for approval this month.

It will bolster the surveillance and monitoring capacity of the Ministry of Public Health and Population and the Haitian National Directorate of Water Supply and Sanitation.

Provisions under World Bank emergency operation procedures allow for up to 40 per cent of the grant, once approved, to be used to reimburse eligible expenditures already incurred as part of the emergency response.

The grant will also finance the work of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to improve access to clean water, provide basic health services for affected populations and vulnerable groups, as well as safe sanitation and waste management in high risk areas.

“Implementation of the National Response Strategy to the cholera outbreak requires close donor and partner coordination, including all organizations currently operating on the ground,” said Alexandre Abrantes, the World Bank Special Envoy to Haiti.

“The new grant will be used to contract experienced NGOs for immediate cholera response activities and strengthen the capacity of the government to respond to epidemics.”

These activities will complement significant hygiene awareness and prevention efforts already underway, such as the creation of a “Public Health Brigade” to carry out cholera treatment and prevention work throughout the country.

Through a Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery grant of US$200,000, the World Bank is identifying national and international actors already involved in these tasks, preparing a standardized training plan and training a core group of 250 trainers.

It will also finance an awareness and prevention campaign.

The Bank has also provided assistance to the Directorate of Civil Protection since the beginning of the cholera outbreak to coordinate the response of the government and its partners. This assistance has supported the setup and manning of the National Emergency Operation Center and management of the national campaign “Konbit kont Kolera,” which raises awareness on cholera and its prevention.

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