A Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/ United Nations World Health Organization (WHO)-backed vaccination campaign has reached more than 729,000 people in Haiti’s areas devastated by Hurricane Matthew, which hit the country last month, the health agencies said.
According to the agencies, Ministry of Health vaccination teams supported by PAHO/WHO and a number of other partners have covered about 94 per cent and 90 per cent of its targets in Grand’Anse and Sud respectively.
However, teams encountered significant difficulties in reaching some communes as access was cut off due to damaged roads and the Ministry is working to identify the pockets of unvaccinated people.
The campaign started on 8 November to respond to cholera in places where water and sanitation systems were damaged. At the launch, the country’s Minister of Public Health, Daphne Benoit underscored the importance of safe water and proper sanitation in preventing the occurrence and spread of cholera.
“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,” Dr. Benoit said.
Also, highlighting the humanitarian needs in the country particularly for rehabilitating health facilities and ensuring access to chlorinated water, the WHO Representative in Haiti, Jean-Luc Poncelet called on all partners to join forces and to “work together and with partners to build local capacity for clinical management of cases in the cholera treatment centres.”
Since the hurricane struck Haiti in early October, more than 5,800 suspected cholera cases have been reported by the Ministry, and according to a recent report, about 1.4 million people are need of humanitarian assistance with about 175,000 people still in shelters.
An increase in suspected malaria cases has also been reported in Grand’Anse and Sud. According to WHO, fumigation and destruction of mosquito breeding sites has been initiated by the country’s programme on malaria control.