October 28, 2010


[The UN is investigating allegations that excrement from Nepalese peacekeepers caused the epidemic.

Aid agencies in Haiti say they fear that suspected new cases of cholera might mean the epidemic is moving closer to the capital Port-au-Prince.]
Suspected cases are being investigated in three new departments, health officials in Haiti said on Wednesday.
They said nearly 300 people were now known to have died in the cholera outbreak.
The UN is investigating allegations that excrement from Nepalese peacekeepers caused the epidemic.
Sarah Jacobs from the aid organization Save the Children told the BBC that 174 new cases of cholera were being investigated in the area around Arcahaie, a village in the northern Port-au-Prince district and about an hour's drive from the capital.
"These suspected cases are much nearer the capital," Ms Jacobs said late on Wednesday.
"So if this is actually confirmed as cholera as we suspect it will be, it means that the cholera has spread, it's that much nearer to the capital. And that's the thing we really need to avoid," she added.
So far a handful of cases have been reported in Port-au-Prince, but they were all people who had contracted the disease in other parts of the country.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said health workers were now investigating suspected cholera cases in three more departments - Nord, Nordouest and Nordest - in addition to the confirmed cases in Artibonite, Central and Ouest.
At least 292 people had died and more than 4,100 were being treated, PAHO deputy director Jon Kim Andrus said.
But the official case counts almost certainly underestimated the number of people infected, he added.
"We really don't know about communities where diarrhoea cases are occurring but not reaching health centres", Mr Andrus said.
Officials from the World Health Organization recommended that Haiti should prepare for the disease to spread to Port-au-Prince and warned that the epidemic had not yet reached its peak.
On Wednesday, UN investigators took samples of waste from a UN base in Mirebalais after allegations that excrement from a newly arrived Nepalese peacekeeping unit had caused the epidemic.
The Associated Press news agency reported that local politicians blame the outbreak on the base, which is perched above the source of the Meille river, a tributary to the Artibonite river.
The Artibonite is regarded to be the source of most cholera infections on Haiti's central plateau.
The UN rejected the accusations, and said the Nepalese unit at the base used sealed septic tanks.
The spread of the disease has alarmed locals in the region, who have vented their fears on the doctors who have arrived to help them.
A treatment centre set up by the Spanish branch of the French medical charity MSF in Saint-Marc was attacked by angry locals, who said they were afraid that the facility would bring more cases of the disease to their town.
UN peacekeepers were drafted in to sort out the disturbance, and no injuries were reported.
Health experts say they expect the outbreak will soon lessen but the disease will eventually join malaria and tuberculosis in becoming endemic in Haiti.
Dominican Republic fears
The public information campaign urges people to boil food and water, avoid raw vegetables and regularly wash with soap.
The health ministry has said it will train 30,000 staff over the next few months to join the anti-cholera campaign.
Special treatment centres have been set up in the worst affected area around the Artibonite River, as well as in Port-au-Prince.
Some 1.3 million survivors of January's devastating earthquake are living in tent camps in and around the capital.
Poor sanitary conditions make the camps and slums vulnerable to cholera, which is caused by bacteria transmitted through contaminated water or food.
Cholera causes diarrhoea and vomiting leading to severe dehydration, and can kill within 24 hours, but is easily treated through rehydration and antibiotics.
The PAHO said there was a "high risk" cholera could also spread to the neighbouring Dominican Republic.
Authorities there had closed popular farmers' markets on the border but have now reopened them after establishing sanitary controls in the region, the Dominican Republic's health minister said.
[Day Two: More talk of how much the U.S. loves India. In Mr. Rhodes’s words: “The second day has a number of events that are focused on the future partnership that we’re trying to build with India and how it’s a relationship that we really believe is going to be indispensable to shaping the 21st century.”] 
U.S. President Barack Obama
 is scheduled to arrive in 
on Nov. 6.
U.S. officials have released the detailed schedule for U.S. President Barack  Obama’s  visit to India next week. Sikhs won’t be happy that he is missing Amritsar, possibly over the headgear brouhaha. And from official comments, you get a good sense already that this is a trip that will be full of buzzwords and grand statements. Whether they are backed up by what wonks call “tangible deliverables” we will only know once the President leaves for Jakarta Nov. 9.

Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, told reporters in Washington that the president will leave for India Nov. 5 (which is Diwali) and arrive Nov. 6.
Day One: A statement at the Taj Palace & Tower hotel to commemorate the victims of the Mumbai terrorist attacks. (Expect much talk on counter-terrorism cooperation, despite India’s griping over David Coleman Headley.)
Next, the Gandhi Museum. “I think it’s important to note here that obviously one of the things that the United States shares with India is they’re the two world’s largest democracies. We believe that that’s fundamental to our relationship; it makes it a qualitatively different relationship in the sense that we have shared interests and shared values,” Mr. Rhodes said, phrases that we expect to hear over and over again.
On to the business summit that the U.S.-India Business Council is putting together. Mr. Obama will participate in three events: a roundtable with entrepreneurs; a roundtable with some U.S. CEOs where they’ll be able to discuss the challenges and opportunities around doing business in India (Please Mr. President, ask them to grant us 100% FDI in retail); and a speech.
Day Two: More talk of how much the U.S. loves India. In Mr. Rhodes’s words: “The second day has a number of events that are focused on the future partnership that we’re trying to build with India and how it’s a relationship that we really believe is going to be indispensable to shaping the 21st century.”
Mr. Obama will visit a local school to participate in some Diwali celebrations (presumably no firecrackers which would freak out the Secret Service.) Then a town hall with university students where there will be more talk of the “future partnership that we’re trying to build as we take the U.S./India relationship to a new level,” Mr. Rhodes said.
Around here there will be some talk on agriculture (read: the need for India to allow in U.S. corporate agriculture) and democracy (pay attention, China.)
Then to Delhi. First stop: Humayun’s tomb. At night, a cozy dinner for the Obamas and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife. “As much as any leader in the world, I think (Mr. Singh) is somebody who has had a close intellectual connection with the President on a range of issues surrounding economic growth and development,” Mr. Rhodes said.
Day Three: Wreath-laying at Mahatma Gandhi’s grave. Bilateral meeting with Mr. Singh followed by a press conference. Meetings with Indian officials (Sonia Gandhi is in here somewhere, we assume) then an address to Parliament. This likely will be the showcase speech of the visit, addressing the “broad range of issues on which the U.S. and India cooperate — political, security and economic — and the alignment we have with the Indians on a number of issues,” according to Mr. Rhodes.
Then a chat with India’s president. At night, a state dinner.
Day Four: Depart for Jakarta.