The World Bank has announced a $15 million emergency grant to help boost Haiti's medical response to the cholera epidemic, which has claimed more than three thousand lives since October.
Part of the bank's $479 million pledge to rebuild earthquake-damaged Haiti, the grant will support public and non-public efforts on the ground to respond to emergency medical needs at the departmental level — including the provision of urgent care and treatment for affected populations and vulnerable groups as well as preventive interventions at the community level. Preventive actions designed to complement efforts already under way include the implementation of hygiene and food-handling awareness campaigns in communities and schools where kids are being taught about the importance of using clean water and soap to avoid contagion.
The grant — the preparation of which was first announced in November and which subsequently was augmented by an additional $5 million — also will be used to provide technical assistance to the Ministry of Public Health and Population and the Haitian National Directorate of Water Supply and Sanitation to improve the country's early warning response to outbreaks, monitor incidents, strengthen medical waste management, and build implementation capacity.
"Key to the success of these efforts is the joint response to the emergency, involving not only agencies and [non-governmental organizations] but, especially, the Haitians themselves," said Alexandre Abrantes, 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 the epidemic."