An Urgent Update on Haiti – Nov. 25, 2010

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Since the earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, many organizations rushed in to implement emergency relief as well as begin the long-term work of rebuilding the infrastructure of the country. Good Neighbor Insurance has been supplying these aid workers with short-term overseas health and crisis insurance, and is now prepared to help those now traveling to the region due to the recent epidemic.

We expect a significant increase in recorded cases (of cholera). People should not be surprised by that.

Jeff Gulleson of Good Neighbor Insurance states, 'As an organization closely associated with NGOs and those doing relief work and international development in at-risk countries, we quickly set up a webpage with links to organizations people could donate to and also a doctor’s 'health and safety guidelines' for workers traveling to the region. I was a worker myself for over 30 years with an NGO in Southeast Asia, so anything we can do to help, we’ll do. The workers, and the Haitians themselves, are in our prayers. Please read the following and do what you can to help.'

Haiti Crisis Update follows:

UNICEF stated recently that they are mobilizing all their staff and resources in an effort to stem the spread of cholera in Haiti, and warned today that with 50 percent of the population under 18 years, large numbers of children are affected. At least 27 deaths have been recorded in the teeming capital Port-au-Prince, including its largest slum Cite Soleil, and nationwide fatalities are rising by more than 50 a day.

'We are now trying to ramp up the collection of data from communities, so that we can get a more realistic figure,' said Nigel Fisher, who is acting U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator and deputy head of the U.N. mission in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH.

“We expect a significant increase in recorded cases (of cholera). People should not be surprised by that.”
To help contain the outbreak, nearly half a million water tablets, soap and oral rehydration salts are being distributed, targeting areas where cholera has already been detected.

A $164 million appeal was launched on Friday to get additional doctors, medicines and water purification equipment to respond to the epidemic, which has spread quickly since it was first confirmed on October 22 according to the U.N.

In related news, protesters rioted in Haiti, blaming United Nations troops for the cholera epidemic that has killed hundreds of people, and attacked U.N. peacekeepers in two cities on Monday, Nov 15, 2010. The Nepalese had been the subject of widespread rumors that they brought the cholera bacteria behind the month-long epidemic of the deadly disease in Haiti that has killed more than 900 people and sickened close to 15,000.

The U.N. (which is helping the impoverished country rebuild after a devastating earthquake in January) has denied rumors that latrines close to the Nepalese peacekeepers camp were the cause of the cholera outbreak even though studies have shown the strain to be South Asian in origin.

The cholera epidemic has inflicted another crisis on the Western Hemisphere's poorest state as it struggles to rebuild from the earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people.

Experts say Haiti’s widespread poverty and poor sanitation have been major factors in the rapid spread of the cholera epidemic, which has affected six of the country's ten provinces. The last cholera epidemic in Haiti was a century ago.

Just one week ago, Hurricane Tomas lashed Haiti's crowded camps for earthquake survivors and coastal towns, triggering flooding and mudslides that killed at least seven people. But workers said they were incredibly lucky even though flooding is serious due to the cholera epidemic, because most of the 1.5 million people who are homeless had nowhere to evacuate to.

Forecasters warned that rain still could produce flash flooding and mudslides in deforested Haiti, where impoverished peasants have for decades cut down trees for firewood and left the hills and mountains bare and eroded.

Haiti is still preparing to have one of the most important elections in years on November 28, 2010. 'We are now at the point where we cannot step back because there is a momentum within the population. It's clear that on February 7, President Preval must leave, so we need to have the election now, on November 28.' Said Mirlande Manigats, the former first lady who has emerged as the favorite to succeed President Rene Preval.

100 lawmakers will also be chosen in elections that were originally scheduled for February 28, but put on hold due to the earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people in January.

"Certainly this is going to continue for months, and if you look at other epidemics, it could move into years," Nigel Fisher told AFP. "We're in unknown territory here in Haiti."

More on the epidemic and resulting violence

Situation Report from World Food Program, July 6, 2010

AP video on Haiti’s cholera outbreak

Pictures of Haiti’s tent cities as they brace for rainy season

About Good Neighbor Insurance

Jeff Gulleson established Good Neighbor Insurance in 1997 to provide global health and life insurance services after working with an NGO for 30 years in Indonesia.

GNI uses their expertise to help clients find good, cost-effective international health, travel, and life insurance while providing caring service based on integrity. The company serves students traveling overseas, short-term teams, aid organizations, foreign and domestic corporations, universities, and volunteers both from the U.S. and abroad.

With knowledgeable staff that have lived and worked for extended periods overseas, GNI has the expertise to counsel individuals, families, and groups on their international health, travel or property and casualty insurance needs.
Contact Information

For more information, contact Jeff Gulleson at Good Neighbor Insurance, Toll Free: 866-636-9100 or in Phoenix, AZ: 480-813-9100
Good Neighbor Insurance, 690 E. Warner Rd., Ste. 117, Gilbert, AZ 85296, USA


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