PAHO Donates Over A Million Doses Of Cholera Vaccines To Haiti

(CMC) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says it has provided 1.17 million doses of oral cholera vaccines to Haiti as cases continue to rise in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (Caricom) country.

It said the Evichol vaccine was provided by the International Coordinating Group on Vaccine Provision (IGC), which manages the global cholera vaccine stockpile, following a request by Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP).

Haiti’s vaccination campaign is set to start in the next few days, initially targeting populations over the age of one year in Cite Soleil, Delmas, Tabarre, Carrefour and Port-au-Prince in the Ouest Department and Mirebalais in the Centre Department – areas in which most of the cholera cases have been reported, to date.

“Haiti has experience in managing cholera, but the fragile security situation has slowed down response efforts, so the arrival of these vaccines is most welcome,” said PAHO’s director, Dr Carissa F. Etienne.

“PAHO has been working with Haiti since the resurgence of cholera and will continue to support the national authorities to quickly distribute vaccines, monitor cases and provide life-saving care,” said the Dominican-born official.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the use of the oral vaccine in combination with other measures – particularly water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions – to prevent the spread of the water-borne disease.

PAHO is providing technical and financial assistance to the MSPP to implement the vaccination campaign, including training of health workers, guidance to identify priority communities and potential barriers, deployment of record management tools and risk communication and community engagement activities to encourage vaccine uptake.

“The arrival of oral vaccines in Haiti is a step in the right direction. We are integrating this tool into our national strategy, which includes surveillance, water and sanitation interventions, social mobilisation, and treatment,” said MSPP Director General Lauré Adrien.

“We hope this first shipment will be followed by others so that the vaccine is available to all populations at risk in Haiti,” Adrien added.

PAHO said an additional batch of around 500,000 doses is expected to arrive in Haiti in the coming weeks.

Cholera has spread geographically within Haiti in the past weeks. As of today, the National Department of Epidemiology, Laboratories, and Research (DELR) reported 1,220 confirmed cases and over 280 deaths due to cholera in eight departments, with over 14,100 suspected cases spread across all 10 departments in the country.

“PAHO has been working closely with the MSPP to scale up critical operations to treat and prevent cholera,” said Maureen Birmingham, PAHO/WHO Representative in Haiti, adding “vaccination is one additional strategy to help slow down transmission.”