On November 21, 2014, Grenada was the proud recipient of the Henry C. Smith Award for Immunization. The award was presented to the country's Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) Coordinator, Mrs. Allyson Clouden at the 30th Annual EPI Managers Meeting, organized by the Pan American Health Organization for Latin America and the Caribbean, held in St. Maarten, November 19 — 21, 2014.
This award was named after a legend in immunization, Belizean, Mr. Henry C. Smith who developed the Vaccine Coverage Monitoring Chart while working as the Immunization Advisor in the Caribbean in the 1980's. The chart is currently being used in many regions of the World Health Organization.
Each year, the award is given to the country that has made the most improvement in the Immunization Programme. Grenada was adjudged the winner from a list of twenty nine (29) countries and it is the first time that the island has received such an award. The Immunization programme has been hailed one of the most successful programmes of the Ministry of Health. Immunization is a priority of the public health sector and vaccines are procured exclusively by the government of Grenada for use in the various health facilities throughout the tri island state. Vaccination of children commences at the age of six (6) weeks against nine (9) communicable diseases viz: diphtheria, pertussus (whopping cough), tetanus, hepatitis B. haemophilus influenzae B,measles, mumps,rubella and polio.
Vaccination coverage has been relatively high; 90 % and above over the years, but a significant improvement was noted in all the vaccines in 2013. This performance is attributable to the committed efforts of Community Nursing Health teams and four (4) private Pediatricians. Recognition is also attributed to the support staff including; the Ambulance Drivers, the staff of the Central Procurement Unit and Epidemiological Unit for their role in facilitating the immunization programme in Grenada. The parents and caregivers who recognized the value of immunization and had their children vaccinated are also commended for their trust.
Immunization is the most cost effective public health interventions ever to be initiated in combating communicable diseases. The recent experience of the Ebola epidemic when many were clamoring for quick production of vaccines bears testimony of the value of vaccines, however, many continue to have misgivings. Despite the many myths and negative opinions; vaccines continue to save many lives throughout the world.
EPI Coordinator Allyson Clouden poses with Mr. Henry C. Smith after receiving award