The devastation caused by cholera is difficult to overstate. Families watched their loved ones suffer excruciatingly and die within hours of falling ill, unable to save them.
Cholera is easily treatable and preventable with clean water and rehydration, but in the face of severe lack of resources, health and humanitarian actors have for years scrambled to respond.
Cholera is far from being an issue of the past. The UN estimates that another 30,000 people will be sickened in 2017. On average, cholera continues to kill one person every day. Many of the hardest hit areas still lack sources of potable water or adequate sanitation facilities.
Cholera infection rates spike each time there is heavy rain, as when Haiti was battered by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. With limited access to safe drinking water, communities across the country live in fear of contracting the disease again.
For surviving families, cholera has created a domino effect with lasting impacts. Thousands of families lost breadwinners, and have been left struggling to survive without a source of income.
Children have been orphaned, and must often be pulled out of school. In many cases, there is no money for education, condemning them to intergenerational poverty.
Families spent their life savings on burials. Others took out loans to pay for medical care, transportation to clinics, or to give their loved ones proper funerals. Years later, they are unable to repay their debt, and have often had to sell their only productive assets in an attempt to do so.
Some of these damages are reversible. While no amount of compensation can fully make up for the lives lost, victims repeatedly stress the desperate need for modest, direct financial assistance to help them get back on their feet. By delivering on the New Approach, the UN can eliminate the threat of cholera and help address the damages done to the victims. Making good on its promises will save thousands of lives in Haiti, and the UN’s own legacy.