In a book (1), Renaud Piarroux recounts how scientists falsified data and helped the UN to deny its responsibility for importing cholera into Haiti.
The theory of "Environmental paradigm of cholera" in Haiti almost became a scientific truth. How to explain the extreme violence of the epidemic if not by a combination of exceptional circumstances? The earthquake of January 12, 2010 (about 250,000 dead) and hurricane Tomas on November 5 had sacked the country and created the breeding ground for the explosion of the bacteria, as published on June 18, 2012 the review PNAS of the American Academy of Sciences.
The South Asian strain of Vibrio cholerae had to migrate, via sea currents or in ballast water, and acclimatize to the coastal fluvial and marine environment, thanks to global warming, thus promising to become endemic. Suffice to say that cholera became a fatality in Haiti.
In Haiti, cholera hunters
Cholera introduced by peacekeepers
Six years later, the 1st December 2016, Ban Ki-moon, then Secretary-General of the UN, apologizes to Haitians. The cholera had indeed been introduced by the Nepalese peacekeepers who arrived in Haiti in October 2010, while an epidemic was raging in their country. And, as rumored then, the Annapurna camp where they lived had dumped its septic tank, teeming with life-threatening bacteria, into the Meille River, which flows into the Artibonite River, where the Haitians draw water.
But in six years, lies and denials from leading scientists and institutions: the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO, US Branch of WHO) and the famous US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It is this manipulation, to hide the guilty truth, and the laborious and late implementation of a strategy to fight against the epidemic that tells the epidemiologist and head of the parasitology department of the hospital Pitié-Salpêtrière Renaud Piarroux, dispatched to investigate on the spot since autumn 2010.
The mission of peacekeepers in Haiti ends in a climate of tension
Falsified maps of the epidemic
In an interview with AFP on October 27, 2010, the one who heads the group of experts on cholera at WHO is formal: "It is absolutely impossible that the disease was brought by humanitarian workers from other countries. " Later, in December, the Lancet Infectious Diseases will estimate that "To look for where the epidemic comes from is neither loyal (…) nor useful to fight the epidemic. In the meantime, PAHO / WHO had published a series of maps on the epidemic, removing the cases that occurred the first week in the central department. It appeared so, "Proofs" in support, that the epidemic had started in the coastal department of Artibonite, giving credence to the environmental theory and exonerating the Minustah.
Danish and Nepalese scientists will prove perfect correlation of genomes of isolates collected in Nepal and Haiti, and false controversy on cholera will be resolved in the columns of the scientific journal PLOS pathogens in April 2014. Tens of thousands of people reportedly died.