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Secretary-General's Remarks at Launch of Initiative for the Elimination of Cholera in Haiti

(11 December 2012)

Cholera continues to take a heavy toll on Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

In Haiti, it has claimed the lives of more than 7,750 people, infected over 620,000, and added a heavy weight of suffering on a country already recovering from the largest natural disaster in the history of the western hemisphere.

The United Nations and many partners have been working with the Haitian Government and people to respond.

We have focused on water and sanitation facilitiates, and on training, logistics and early warning.

Haiti has seen a dramatic fall in infection and fatality rates. But this will not be a short-term crisis. Eliminating cholera from Haiti will continue to require the full cooperation and support of the international community.

I thank H.E. Prime Minister Lamothe of Haiti and Minister Hidalgo of the Dominican Republic for their efforts.

President Clinton, the UN Special Envoy, could not be here today, but we all know the strength of his commitment to the people of Haiti.

My thanks, as well, to the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNDP, PAHO, the Centres for Disease Control and all international partners.

Almost one year ago, the Presidents of Haiti and the Dominican Republic launched the Initiative for the Elimination of Cholera in the Island of Hispaniola.

Today we are launching a new initiative to support the Hispaniola campaign.

The new initiative will invest in prevention, treatment, and education.

It will take a holistic approach to tackling the cholera challenge.

The main focus is on the extension of clean drinking water and sanitation systems.

But we are also determined to save lives now through the use of an oral cholera vaccine.

Because global vaccines are in short supply, we will first target high-risk areas: densely populated urban areas and rural areas far removed from health services.

As production increases, the vaccine effort will expand its reach.

Resources are critical.

Haiti will need almost $500 million over the next two years to carry out its national implementation plan.

Yet, at a time when needs are high, funding is low. The relevant humanitarian appeals are less than half funded.

Today, I am pleased to announce that $215 million in existing funds from bilateral and multilateral donors will be used to support the initiative. I thank the donor community for this generous commitment.

The United Nations will do its part. We are committing $23.5 million, building on the $118 million the UN system has spent on the cholera response to date.

I will use every opportunity in the months ahead to mobilize even more funding.

We will also continue to support the Government of Haiti in tracking cholera spending and ensure the wise and effective use of resources.

Finally, I am pleased to announce that Dr. Paul Farmer, the globally renowned humanitarian, will serve as my Special Adviser, focusing on community-based medicine and on drawing lessons from Haiti that can be applied to other places in need.

The United Nations has a long history in Haiti – many years of partnership in difficult times.

Today, as ever, we are in Haiti for one reason alone: to help the Haitian people make their great country all that it can be.

We know the elimination of cholera is possible. Science tells us it can be done. It has happened in difficult environments around the world. It can and will happen in Haiti.

Let us unite to ensure better health and a better future for the people of Haiti.

Thank you.