Bonfim, April 22, 2022 (PAHO) – The governments of Brazil and Guyana, in technical cooperation with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), organized on April 20 an event in Bonfim, a city located on the border between the two countries, to increase vaccination coverage in the Americas.
The ceremony took place within the framework of the 20th annual Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA), which will be celebrated from 23 to 30 April 2022. Under the call to action “Are you fully vaccinated? Get all your shots”, the goal is to highlight the importance of everyone keeping their vaccination schedule up to date to prevent more than 25 potentially deadly diseases and protect entire generations throughout their entire life course.
Thanks to vaccines, smallpox was eradicated in 1980, and the Region of the Americas was the first in the world to eliminate diseases such as Polio (in 1994), rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (in 2015), and Neonatal Tetanus (in 2017).
“Vaccination is without a doubt the best public health measure we have for our people. But, for it to be effective, we all have to be vaccinated. Today’s event shows the world a union between countries to have healthier populations with more well-being”, said the Representative of PAHO and the World Health Organization (WHO) office in Brazil, Socorro Gross, adding that Guyana and Brazil have been very strong advocates for vaccination in the world, which is key to avoid the recrudescence of already eliminated, but not yet eradicated diseases.
“We have to convince that parent, to convince those who need to be vaccinated that vaccine is good, the vaccine is safe, the vaccine is necessary, not only for the individual but for the community at large”, stated Vishwa Mahadeo, Director-General of the Ministry of Health of Guyana.
“Vaccination Week in the Americas is a major effort by countries in this region to increase vaccination coverage in all of our countries. In addition to this campaign, we are in Brazil with vaccination campaigns against influenza, measles and COVID-19”, said Arnaldo Medeiros, Secretary of Health Surveillance of the Brazilian Ministry of Health. “We understand that these campaigns are key to control immuno-preventable diseases”, he added.
“Brazil is a country that borders almost every country in South America and the challenges we face in border cities are very particular when compared to other cities” stated Ana Spiassi, UNICEF's Health and Nutrition Consultant in the Brazilian state of Roraima.
Luiz Felipe Codina, PAHO and WHO Representative in Guyana, recalled that several diseases do not respect borders and, therefore, it is essential to join efforts. “We need to recognize the work of human resources, vaccinate our entire population during this pandemic and try to bring all vaccination coverage up to date”, he said, adding that it is possible to expand technical cooperation between the two countries. According to him, besides vaccination and malaria control programs in the borders, Brazil can share its experiences in telemedicine and surveillance, and Guyana can collaborate with its knowledge in non-communicable diseases.
Forbes July, Ambassador Ministry of Foreign Affairs Guyana, stated that the completion of the critical Linden/Lethem corridor would be a game-changer for Brazil-Guyana relations. “The two countries are in consultation to finalize the operational modalities for the international road transport agreement for the movement and passengers and goods between Brazil and Guyana. There will certainly be opportunities for Guyanese and Brazilian in this new relationship vision.” He stated that the activities this week are certainly in the best interest of the safety of our population, especially those on both sides of our border, and is indicative of a much wider south-south cooperation.
As part of the programme, cultural activities were done by both countries. The Brazilian Ballerina group performed an enchanting ballerina dance for the audience; the nursing students of the Lethem Nursing School performed a multicultural dance that represented dance styles from the six races in Guyana. Both the visitors from Guyana and the residents of Brazil were entertained by the two unique cultural performances.
Collage of activities at the Launch of the Vaccination week in the Americas 2022