Haiti Presents Plan to Vaccinate 90 Percent of Children Under 1

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Country needs over $100 million financing over five years to carry out comprehensive vaccination plan

Washington, DC, May 13th, 2011 (PAHO/WHO)-- Haiti has finalized a plan to ensure immunization against the country’s most prevalent childhood diseases for at least 90 percent of children under 1 by 2015.

Haitian health authorities presented the plan this week to a group of international partners convened by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO). The plan reflects the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population’s determination to re-launch routine vaccination efforts, which were lagging—relative to other countries of the Americas—even before the earthquake.

More than 2,000 Haitian children under 5 die annually of rotavirus (which causes diarrhea), while thousands more die of other vaccine-preventable diseases.

The plan’s specific goals include:

increasing immunization coverage from around 60 percent to 90 percent among children under 1; maintaining the country free of polio, measles, and rubella; eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus by 2015; introducing new rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines, as well as the pentavalent vaccine which protects against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, Hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), which is a bacteria responsible for some types of meningitis and pneumonias; and improving immunization surveillance for the early detection of vaccine-preventable diseases.

PAHO/WHO is supporting the Ministry of Public Health and Population by coordinating the participation of partners who are expected to support the plan in a variety of ways, from funding to supporting building cold storage for the vaccines and provide training for health care workers who will deliver the vaccines.

“When Haiti is well supported, its people can do incredible things,” said Dr. Jon Andrus, PAHO’s Deputy Director. “The earthquake and cholera outbreak have focused international support, providing an opportunity to help the country catch up in some areas and hopefully leap forward in others.”

“The plan has ambitious objectives because the Haitian people deserve better coverage,” said Dr. Ariel Henry, cabinet chief in the Ministry of Public Health. He thanked international partners for their support and noted that the next hurdle was to start planning implementation.

The plan is unusual in that it brings together coordinated support from a broad range of actors. “I have worked with Haiti for 34 years, and this plan is one of the most remarkable ones I’ve seen in terms of technical cooperation and partnership in support of the country,” said Dr. Ciro de Quadros, Executive Vice-president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Chairman of PAHO’s Technical Advisory Group on vaccine-preventable diseases.

Other agencies and partners that participated in this week’s call included, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital Denver, CIDA, GAVI Alliance, Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, Ministry of Health of Brazil, Minnesota Department of Health, Project Hope, UNICEF, University of Chicago Medical Center, USAID and US CDC.

For more information, contact Nyka Alexander, email: alexandern@paho.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , cell: +1 202 316 5679, tel: +1 202 974 3459 –Media Relations, PAHO - www.paho.org