The Haitian Ministry of Health (MSPP) is setting up a vaccination campaign against cholera in areas ravaged by Hurricane Matthew, with support from the Pan American Health Organization / World Health Organization (PAHO / WHO).
The decision of WHO and other member of the Global Task Force for Cholera Control to approve the request of the MSPP to bring 1 million doses of oral vaccine against cholera is based on the goal of reducing the burden of cholera cases on health care facilities, and of reducing deaths in the departments of the Sud and Grand’Anse, the areas most affected by Hurricane Matthew.
The target population is estimated at over 820,000 people over one year of age. The vaccination campaign will begin November 8, 2016. Activities will focus on the municipalities most vulnerable to cholera outbreaks in the two southern departments of Grand’Anse and Sud, where there has been significant destruction of water and sanitation supply systems.
Haiti’s Minister of Public Health, Dr. Daphne Benoit, said that the emergency vaccination campaign was taking place in tragic circumstances that have affected the populations of the south. “The vaccine is an additional intervention which will help us to save lives, but does not replace the efforts that the government supports in the field of water and sanitation,” she emphasized.
PAHO-WHO Representative Dr. Jean-Luc Poncelet stressed the importance of the leadership of MSPP in this vaccination campaign, which “will contribute to limit the suffering of individuals and families affected by Hurricane Matthew.” Some municipalities in the south west peninsula have reported outbreaks of cholera since the hurricane hit on October 4, “so it is important to work together and with partners to build local capacity for clinical management of cases in the cholera treatment centers,” he said.
Poncelet noted that PAHO-WHO will support the Ministry of Health in activities including development of tools and technical support as well as reception, storage and transport of the vaccines and supplies in departments, municipalities and institutions. PAHO/WHO will also support training of vaccination staff supervisors and operators, and the coordination, collection and analysis of information, monitoring and evaluation.
Since Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti on October 4, significant increases in suspected cases of cholera and deaths have been reported from several places in the departments of Sud and Grand’Anse.
Numerous partners that work in Haiti are supporting the cholera vaccination campaign, including UNICEF, GHESKIO, Partners in Health, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), International Medical Corps and others.