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Hispaniola needs $2.2b to wipe out cholera

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti and the Dominican Republic will require $2.2 billion during the next decade for an ambitious plan to eliminate cholera, an official from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

The plan is scheduled to be rolled out in a week or two and it outlines a government-led effort backed by the CDC, the Pan American Health Organization, and UNICEF.

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It is still unclear who will pay for what will be the biggest endeavor yet to develop Haiti’s barely existent water and sanitation system.

‘‘This is the greatest public health intervention that could be implemented in Haiti, but it’s a long-term strategy, it’s not a fix tomorrow,’’ said Dr. Jordan Tappero, director of the Health Systems Reconstruction Office for the CDC’s Center for Global Health. ‘‘Our goal is to eliminate transmission of cholera.’’

Short-term goals include building water supply systems, sewer systems, and wastewater treatment plants, as well as improving access to latrines, especially in schools.

The tattered state of Haiti’s infrastructure has contributed to the flow of cholera since the disease was likely introduced in October 2010 by a unit of peacekeepers from Nepal, where cholera is endemic. The disease is easily preventable through proper hygiene but it has killed more than 7,600 people in Haiti and more than 420 in neighboring Dominican Republic, health officials say.

The plan warns that the disease could spread across the hemisphere if left unchecked and produce an “economic catastrophe” because of its impact on agriculture and tourism.

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