NEW YORK: A panel of four members, including one from India, was appointed by the UN Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki-moon to investigate the source of the cholera outbreak in Haiti, which killed more than 3,400 people and continues to spread across the quake-ravaged country.
Some Haitians blamed the UN peacekeeping mission in their country for carrying in the deadly disease, which erupted in October. Scientific studies by epidemiologists and biologists have been unable to confirm the accusations of Haitian protesters.
Mr Ban said Thursday he was deeply concerned by the cholera outbreak, and determining the source of the disease has become important for the UN, as well as people in Haiti.
Since he announced the intention to appoint the panel in mid-December, Mr Ban said he had consulted with the World Health Organisation to identify the leading experts in public health, epidemiology, microbiology, water and sanitation to serve on the panel.
“The panel will seek to determine the source of the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti,” Mr Ban said. “They will review all of the information and data available to date and travel to Haiti to conduct investigations on the ground.”
He also said the panel will operate “completely independently” of the UN and will have access to all UN records, reports, facilities and staff members as required. The panel will present a written report of its findings to Mr Ban and the Haitian government.
The panel will be chaired by doctor Alejandro Cravioto of Mexico, who works for the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Bangladesh.
The other members are Dr Claudio Lanata of the Instituto de Investigacion Nutritional (IIN) in Peru, Dr Daniele Lantagne of Harvard University and Dr Balakrish Nair of the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases in India.