The 28th meeting of the Caribbean Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) managers was held in Bridgetown, Barbados, 27 February-2 March 2012. The meeting convened over 120 participants from 30 countries, as well as representatives from international agencies such as the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Canadian Public Health Agency (CPHA). Participants included representatives from the Ministries of Health, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/ WHO), and the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC).
Some of the objectives of the meeting were to analyze the status of the EPI programme in each country and to identify areas that require strengthening, define targets, objectives and budget for 2012. The meeting also discussed setting the targets and objectives of each country with respect to immunization coverage and reduction of morbidity and mortality from vaccine-preventable diseases for the year 2012.
The immunization programme of the countries of the Caribbean Community has been one of the most successful and is used as a benchmark by which other programmes are measured. Strategic planning and implementation of activities, monitoring and evaluation, along with committed health professionals have contributed to this success. One of the main achievements in 2011 was the completion of activities related to the verification and documentation of measles, rubella and congenital rubella syndrome elimination in the Caribbean countries. Dr Susan Reef, representative from the CDC’s Global Immunization Division and internationally renowned rubella expert, recognized the Caribbean countries as leaders in immunization.
A central goal for the countries and territories of the Caribbean Community was the achievement of greater than 95% vaccination coverage for all administered antigens, which was accomplished by many countries. This 28th EPI management meeting marks a number of milestones, including the eradication of polio in the region and the heralding of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).
Published in Global Immunization Newsletter, March 2012.