Effort targets 200,000 people in three departments considered at high risk
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 2 September 2014 (PAHO/WHO) — Haiti launched a cholera vaccination campaign last week that seeks to reach 200,000 people in three departments. The campaign is being led by the Ministry of Health and Population (MSPP) with support from the United Nations and a coalition of strategic partners, including the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO).
The campaign has financing from the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and is using vaccines from a global stockpile created at the request of the 2011 World Health Assembly as a tool to help control cholera outbreaks worldwide. WHO serves as secretariat for the global stockpile, which is also supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Doctors without Borders, and UNICEF.
Last week's campaign was carried out in Artibonite (Gonaives and Ennery), Central (Lascahobas, Saut d'Eau, Savanette and Mirebalais), and West (Arcahaie) departments, which are considered high-risk zones. A second phase is planned for mid-September to deliver a second dose of the vaccine.
"Preventing and controlling cholera transmission is a priority and requires sanitation and hygiene measures," said PAHO/WHO Representative in Haiti Jean-Luc Poncelet. "Vaccination is one more tool in the fight against this disease."
The vaccination campaign complements efforts by Haitian health authorities to improve access to safe water and sanitation, promote hand washing, and encourage community participation in cholera prevention. "The long-term goal is to eliminate cholera from Haiti," said Poncelet.
From January to August of this year, Haiti reported 7,718 cholera cases, a significant decline from the same period in 2013.
For the current campaign, PAHO/WHO provided strategic support for Haiti to purchase, warehouse and distribute cholera vaccines and to finance, train and equip 370 vaccination teams made up of 1,222 health workers and community agents led by 145 departmental supervisors.
PAHO/WHO, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Haitian Institute for Statistics and Information will undertake an evaluation of the campaign.
PAHO, founded in 1902, is the oldest international public health organization in the world. It works with its member countries to improve the health and the quality of life of the people of the Americas. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of WHO.