Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) with support from the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), UNICEF and other partners launched a diphtheria vaccination campaign in mid-March in the coming weeks, more than 2.3 million Haitian children between the ages of 1 and 14 are expected to be vaccinated against the bacterial infection.
In the first phase, campaign activities are focused on 27 communes in eight departments (Artibonite, Center, Nippes, Nord, Nord-Est, Nord-Ouest, Sud and Sud-Est). According to a preliminary report, around 1 million children ages 1 to 14 were vaccinated.
On April 8, a similar campaign is slated to begin in Haiti’s Ouest department, the most populated in the country, and will seek to reach more than 1.2 million children ages 1 to 14.
“The ministry has decided to conduct a campaign in 40 communes where diphtheria has been confirmed or is suspected,” said Laurent Adriane, MSPP Director General. “Making vaccines available is the goal of the Ministry of Health and its main partners, such as PAHO/WHO and UNICEF.”
Since the beginning of this year, Haiti has reported 14 confirmed cases of diphtheria and 48 probable cases. Children under 15 are the most affected, and nearly half of the confirmed and probable cases were not vaccinated. During this period there have been six deaths among the probable cases and one among the confirmed cases.
“This vaccination campaign seeks to reach all those children who have not received the essential vaccines to be protected against diphtheria,” said PAHO/WHO Representative in Haiti Luis Codina. “This is also the largest preventive vaccination campaign in the country since 2016, when similar efforts were made towards the elimination of measles and rubella.”
To carry out this campaign, more than 6,300 vaccinators have been mobilized, organized in 3,181 vaccination teams. They were trained by departmental and national supervisors, with the support of PAHO/WHO experts. Local supervision and independent monitoring of vaccination coverage will take place during and after the campaign) to ensure the technical quality of the campaign.