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Science in society – politics, development and social justice.

Posts Tagged ‘Haiti

Seasonal blooms: what causes periodic coastal cholera proliferation?

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A broad, flat expanse of what was once fields is now a lake of muddy brown water

Flooding in Bangladesh - a sure risk of the spread of endemic cholera

Cholera cases total between 3-5 million each year with 100,000-120,000 deaths. It is endemic in Asia and Africa. It causes devastating outbreaks and global pandemics. It is said to have originated in the Bay of Bengal.

The two most recent outbreaks of this gastro-intestinal disease are in Haiti and the Congo River. As of 10 July 2011 388,958 cases had been reported in Haiti, with 5,899 deaths. On 20 July 2011 the World Health Organisation reported 3,896 cases and 256 deaths on the banks of the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo. From 14 to 20 July a total of 181 cases and six deaths were reported in the neighboring Republic of Congo.

Cholera is entirely preventable with comprehensive provision of hygiene, sanitation and drinking water. There has not been an outbreak of cholera in London since such infrastructure was built in the mid-19th century. Read the rest of this entry »


Reuters report US threat from Haiti cholera is low – phew.

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Now an owner of a smartphone, I receive my emails to my pocket. Reuters send me a morning digest newsletter each day. The fourth item of the 12/11/10 email, from a list of eight chosen stories from around the world, was under an unabashed headline: “Haiti cholera toll at 800, US risk seen low”. The article fits the title. It was accompanied by a stark photograph of a man face down in a filthy gutter, possibly one of the 800 dead.

David Daigle, a spokesman from the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, told Reuters: “Good sanitation which includes plumbing, separation of faecal wastes and similar measures, and access to safe drinking water in the United States would work against widespread transmission”. Thompson Reuters’ story, carried by outlets across the world and aggregators all over the web, is emblematic of a pervasive problem in the media. It is not ubiquitous but it is, at times, intolerable: the west is best and takes the lead in a story.

The parochialism of Western media is something Nick Davies talks about  in his book Flat Earth News. By giving the Haiti the US lead in its angle demonstrates a clear effort on the part of Reuters to fit its product to its clients. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by nascenthack

November 22, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Posted in Disease, Media

Tagged with , , , ,