Above: a cholera treatment centre in Haiti after the earthquake (UN Photo/Marco Dormino)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Haiti will be launching a major push to vaccinate citizens against cholera.
The programme will target 200,000 people in three departments, starting in August. It will be supported by the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization.
The vaccination campaign will be carried out in the Artibonite, Central and West departments, which were selected by Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population due to their place as “high risk zones.”
“Vaccination is an important complementary measure in the fight against cholera,” said PAHO/WHO Assistant Director Francisco Becerra. “But the long-term objective is to eliminate cholera, which will require sustained improvements in access to water and sanitation for the population.”
Haiti’s cholera epidemic, which was, by most accounts, brought into the country by UN peacekeepers from Nepal after the 2010 earthquake, has killed more than 8,562 people since 2010.
Haiti’s cholera spread has slowed considerably, but there were still some 6,730 cases and 51 deaths between January and July.
That was a reduction from 26,000 cases in the first six months of 2013.
“The number of cases has declined, but any death due to cholera is unacceptable,” said Jean-Luc Poncelet, PAHO/WHO’s representative in Haiti.
PAHO/WHO shipped 400,000 doses of oral cholera vaccine that were presented by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on his visit to Haiti last week.
The vaccines come from a global stockpile created in 2011; they were financed by the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund.