Haiti: Cholera vaccines for 200,000 people

14 August, 2014
2013, Port-au-Prince, Haiti: Aid workers from the International Organization for Migration run a cholera health and hygiene briefing session in Haiti. Credit: OCHA/Nancy Palus
2013, Port-au-Prince, Haiti: Aid workers from the International Organization for Migration run a cholera health and hygiene briefing session in Haiti. Credit: OCHA/Nancy Palus

With support from the OCHA-managed Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), Haiti’s Ministry of Health and the Pan-American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) are set to vaccinate 200,000 people against cholera.

The three-phase vaccination initiative, which is part of a comprehensive Government and UN-supported operation to fight cholera in Haiti, is targeting 600,000 people in areas where the disease persists.

More than 100,000 people were vaccinated during the first phase of the campaign in 2013 and another 300,000 vaccinations are planned for late 2014.
In a recent opinion piece, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon wrote, “These efforts have already reduced the toll of the epidemic significantly.”

Progress, but more is needed

According to the Haitian Ministry of Health, as of 5 August 2014, more than 705,000 people in Haiti have been treated for cholera and 8,625 have died from the disease. But the incidence of cholera has declined by 82 per cent since 2013, reaching its lowest level since the beginning of the epidemic. Mortality rates have also declined to 0.69 per cent, well below WHO’s target rate.

“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.”

In January 2014, CERF allocated US$6 million from its Underfunded Emergencies window to sustain cholera-prevention-and-treatment operations in Haiti, and in May, another $2.7 million was approved of which $1.7 million went to PAHO/WHO. The remaining $1 million went to the UN Children’s Fund for cholera prevention efforts.

Since 2011, CERF has allocated $24.6 million to help humanitarian partners respond to cholera in Haiti.

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