26 Nov 2010

UN says more medics needed in cholera-hit Haiti

2:55 pm on 26 November 2010

The United Nations says Haiti needs an army of medical staff to contain the cholera epidemic that is claiming more lives every day.

The BBC reports more than 1500 people have died and almost 28,000 have been hospitalised in the past month.

At least 1000 more nurses and 100 doctors are needed according to the UN's top humanitarian official, Valerie Amos. Ms Amos said doctors and nurses across Haiti were overwhelmed and their efforts were being hampered by dire shortages of necessary supplies, from soap to body bags.

She said the UN would reach out to countries and aid organisations with the potential to rapidly supply medical staff, she said - for example Cuba, which already has about 400 doctors and other health workers in Haiti.

"We have to control the outbreak and we have to bring down the percentage of people who are dying, and we have to do that as a matter of urgency," she said.

Meanwhile, the World Bank has announced an emergency grant of $10 million for Haiti.

Officials in Haiti now say the epidemic is spreading twice as fast as had been estimated and government will have to increase find places for more treatment centres and to dispose of bodies.