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Photo: Haiti, 1994

Cholera can kill within a day and advances quickly on a continental scale. The cholera epidemic in the 1990s spread to over 20 countries in Latin America, with the last case reported in 2002. In Haiti shortly after the earthquake, cholera re-emerged sickening more than half a million people between October 2010 and May 2012, and killing more than 7,000.

“Only major improvements in Haiti’s water and sanitation systems will provide durable solutions to the epidemic over time,” said Dr. Mirta Roses, Director of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization.

Even before the January 2010 earthquake, only 69% of Haiti’s residents had access to safe drinking water, and access to sanitation had declined from 26% of the population in 1990 to only 17% in 2010.

During the United Nations Conference Rio+20, held on June 19-20, 2012, PAHO/WHO organized a side event titled “Water and Sustainable Development: Elimination of Cholera in Hispaniola”. The event featured discussions on efforts to increase infrastructure coverage and delivery of water and sanitation services in aims to eliminate cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. For more information, visit: The Health of the Island of Hispaniola at the Heart of Rio+20.

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