Haitian Prime Minister Says Cholera Epidemic Under Control After Killing 7,400

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Haiti prime minister photo

Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe

After a cholera epidemic in Haiti killed more than 7,400 people in the last two years, Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said the disease has been brought under control.

While Lamothe said the nation is grateful for the assistance it received from the international community, some Haitians are blaming peacekeepers from Nepal are responsible for sparking the epidemic after camp latrines contaminated a river—a claim that appears to be confirmed by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control.

Cholera is caused by poor sanitation and it results in severe diarrhea that can lead to dehydration and death. The disease has sickened almost 600,000 people over the past two years in the Caribbean nation.

But despite the accusations of where it started, Lamothe said Haiti’s leaders wanted to move on.

“This (the outbreak) is regrettable,” Lamothe, who became prime minister in May, said during an interview at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. “Our duty is to take care of the people and to solve the problem and that’s where we have been focusing our attention, while the U.N. is investigating the causes.”

Lamothe said he and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “didn’t discuss the cause, we discussed the treatment and going forward.”

In a report to the U.N. Security Council last month, Ban said there had been an increase in the number of cholera cases since the rainy season began in early March and the World Health Organization projects up to 112,000 cases during 2012.

But Lamothe said the outbreak was “really under control” and said that the United Nations mission in Haiti, which began in 2004, had only helped the country and the government was “eternally grateful” for the world body’s help.

“We like to think on the positive side, we are the eternal optimists,” he said. “You need that in Haiti to run a country that’s been mismanaged for the past 30 years. You need a lot of optimism and a lot of will to do the right thing.”

Lamothe said 54 percent of Haitians were living in extreme poverty on less than $1 a day and during the next year he hope to reduce that to 40 percent. He said that while some aid groups were withdrawing he was not concerned Haiti was being forgotten.

“Usually a country is forgotten when things are doing better, so we like to think things are doing better,” he said.