Remarks at an Informal Briefing by the Deputy Secretary-General on the United Nations’ New Approach to Cholera in Haiti

Ambassador Michele J. Sison
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
June 14, 2017


Mr. President of the General Assembly, Madam Deputy Secretary-General, thank you for organizing today’s informal briefing on the UN’s new approach to cholera in Haiti.

As the report of the Secretary-General and your remarks underscore today, Madam Secretary-General, significant progress continues to be made to reduce the transmission of cholera in Haiti through intensified control efforts. The UN’s two-track approach to the cholera outbreak has played a critical role in rapid response to, and effective treatment of, new suspected cases of cholera, as well as in treatment of water and vaccination. And we are encouraged by the positive impact that Track 1A has had to date.

To eradicate cholera in Haiti, we must also address the underlying factors that enable it to continue spreading. In this regard, the establishment of a multi-stakeholder consortium to provide all Haitians access to clean water and sanitation by 2030 is an important milestone – one that will help ensure the overall health and wellbeing of the Haitian people. The United States is proud to engage with our partners in this effort, including the Government of Haiti and the World Bank. The launch of the first community-based project in Mirebalais – ground zero for the cholera outbreak – is another major milestone in the New Approach.

While there are aspects of the community-based approach under Track Two that still need to be worked through in order to ensure that it is credible, sustainable, and delivers concrete results to the people of Haiti, we continue to believe that a community-based approach is the more practical way ahead.

Madam Deputy Secretary-General, it is clear that cholera remains a deadly threat in Haiti and that still greater effort is needed to limit, and eventually eradicate, this disease. Securing adequate funding for the new approach, both in the near term and long term, is a key challenge. For this reason, we support the Secretary-General’s decision to appoint a high-level envoy to seek additional voluntary contributions, and also support in principle the Secretary-General’s invitation to Member States that are able to do so to voluntarily contribute their unencumbered balances from MINUSTAH to the UN’s cholera trust fund.

Although the United States is not in a position to contribute in this way, we encourage other Member States to do so or to contribute to these efforts through whatever mechanism is most appropriate, including bilateral assistance. And we say this as a key bilateral partner in Haiti. I want to underscore that the United States has been, and continues to be, a strong bilateral supporter of cholera treatment and prevention efforts in Haiti. Over the last six years, we have provided over $100 million dollars to prevent, detect and respond to cholera, working side-by-side with the Government of Haiti and other partners. These activities include participation in the vaccine task force, providing water purification tablets, public promotion of safe health and hygiene practices, helping to establish a national system for tracking, responding to, and testing suspected cases of cholera, as well as support to Haiti’s overall health system.

As the Government of Haiti continues to integrate cholera prevention and treatment into overall health programming, the United States will continue to encourage and support its efforts to prevent and treat all causes of diarrheal diseases in Haiti.

Madam Deputy Secretary-General, we look forward to working with you to ensure that this initiative continues to have a positive and lasting impact for those most affected.

Thank you.