“While we are very grateful for the contributions received so far, both cash and in-kind, so far we only have received less than 10 per cent of what we need,” Nigel Fisher, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Haiti, said yesterday.“Critical supplies and skills are urgently needed. We need doctors, nurses, water purification systems, chlorine tablets, soap, oral rehydration salts, tents for cholera treatment centres and a range of other supplies,” he said.The spread of the disease was accelerated by flooding caused by Hurricane Tomas that hit Haiti on 5 November. Ongoing efforts by the Government and humanitarian agencies to combat the spread of cholera have been impeded by recent riots in the city of Cap Haitien, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).As of yesterday, a total of 50,000 people had sought medical attention and 19,646 of them have been confirmed to be suffering from cholera. The death toll stands at about 1,100.“Cholera is an extremely simple disease to cure, and the case mortality rate of 2.4 per cent in medical facilities shows that almost all patients receiving help are surviving,” said Mr Fisher. “Without medical help, the mortality rate will increase dramatically. Oral rehydration salts or home-made sugar-salt solutions are enough to treat 80 per cent of the cases. If we can provide timely treatment to patients we can save lives,” he added.The Cholera Response Plan for which the $164 million is sought focuses on the need to improve water and sanitation and on public information to help prevent the spread of the disease, as well as scaling up medical capacity by building specialized cholera treatment centres (CTCs), smaller treatment units and oral rehydration centres. The plan includes activities to be undertaken by nearly 50 non-governmental organizations.So far 36 CTCs have already been set up nationwide along with 61 smaller treatment units. There are plans to set up CTUs in every hospital in Haiti.On Friday, humanitarian agencies distributed 40 tonnes of medical supplies. The response strategy also provides for 650 oral rehydration centres where lifesaving rehydration salts can be administered.Distribution of water purification tablets, oral rehydration salts and soap is ongoing across the country, as is a large scale public information campaign.“We also need to recognize that this appeal relates to emergency response needs now. In the longer term, effective management of cholera and other communicable diseases that Haitians suffer from every day must mean proper investment in Haitian capabilities, in protected water supplies and environmental sanitation systems across the country, and in proper waste disposal methods. The reality we must all face is that cholera is here to stay in Haiti. We must minimize unsanitary conditions that foster epidemics,” he added. 21 November 2010The top United Nations humanitarian official in Haiti has voiced concern over the slow response to an appeal sent out nine days ago seeking $164 million to curb the spread of the cholera outbreak that has infected nearly 20,000 people and killed hundreds over the past month.
WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C. — Recovering from a historic wildfire season is expected to take British Columbia’s forest industry at least five years, the province’s Forest Ministry said on Wednesday.The ministry said in a statement that although wildfires will likely remain active into the fall, plans to help the industry rebound are already underway.“To better support this process in the light of this year’s unprecedented fire season, a new recovery unit has been established to oversee and co-ordinate government’s cross-ministry response,” said the statement sent to The Canadian Press.Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said at a news conference Tuesday that the logging industry alone will experience lingering implications from the fires.Donaldson said an estimated 53 million cubic metres of timber has burned, which calls for support of harvesters already licensed to collect trees within the fire zone. New licences will also need to be issued to salvage usable wood in burned areas that weren’t previously due to be harvested, the minister said.Those efforts are well underway, along with long-term plans focused on the sustainability of the industry, Donaldson said.“We know there is going to be an extremely high need for reforestation and that’s been planned right now through my ministry in order to ensure that we do have the timber supply in the future,” he said. “But there is no question that there’s going to be an impact from that much timber being burned in the province.”The BC Wildfire Service said on Wednesday that the fires have charred more than 11,500 square kilometres of land this season.The ministry said the full extent of the damage won’t be known until the season is over.But once those areas are thoroughly surveyed, the ministry said it may adjust the annual allowable cuts and determine how much of the scorched timber should be salvaged or left for wildlife habitat.Susan Yurkovich, president of the BC Council of Forest Industries, said although mill infrastructure hasn’t been destroyed by fires, the shortage of timber and wood fibre, especially in the Interior, means companies can’t operate.“We’re not able to get into the forest obviously to do logging because of the fire activity so that’s going to have an impact on mills being able to run,” she said in an interview Wednesday.Many companies have been involved in fire suppression efforts and working with first responders to keep employees and their families safe.As fires are extinguished, Yurkovich said salvaging timber and looking at other areas to harvest wood are priorities to allow mills and the communities around them to get back to work.“When they’ve been through this kind of incident, they need to get back to normal, they need to get into their homes and they need to get back to work,” she said.David Elstone, executive director of the Truck Loggers Association, said even on the coast where fires have been less severe than in the Interior, contractors have seen a decline in work this season.“We can’t estimate how much of the workforce right now is not actually out there on the land working because of the dryness and the hazards but there are certainly contracting communities that aren’t out there in full force.”The BC Wildfire Service said 158 fires are still burning in the province, bringing the total number since April 1 to 1,212 blazes.Yurkovich said the industry is working closely with the provincial government on recovery efforts, and discussions about changing forest-management practices are expected to continue beyond the current fire season.— By Linda Givetash in Vancouver; with files from Laura Kane.
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