Massive Vaccination Campaign Launched in Haiti
Infant mortality is high in Haiti, needlessly so. According to the CIA Factbook, Haiti has the 38th highest infant mortality rate of 221 countries. Number 37 is the DRC! Clearly, more needs to be done to protect the health of children...the most vulnerable members of a vulnerable country.
Measles is the leading vaccine preventable cause of death in Africa, and it is also a major problem in Haiti. Yet the issue is not cost - one dose costs less than a dollar. The real limitations thus far have been a lack of organization and coordination.
With that in mind, I was thrilled when on November 6th, the Haitian government announced that, with the support of various United Nations agencies, a massive vaccination campaign is being undertaken to protect more than half of the population. The vaccations will include measles, German measles, tetanus and polio - the target is to reach 5.7 million people (58% of the population),
It is great to see ambition on the part of the Haitian Ministry of Health (MoH) and the willingness of the international community to help it build its capacity. My experiences with Haitian MoH staff have generally been positive. Collaborative approaches such as this help to build up the MOH while organizing individuals and communities across the country...it takes more than a ministry to pull off a successful vaccination campaign, after all.
That having been said, the role of the MOH is important. The UN won't be there forever. In time I hope that the MOH will be better able to monitor and evaluate health programs in the countries (governmental, non-governmental, international), help to create new partnerships, and facilitate new initiatives. The specific UN agencies involved include the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
There is much to be done, but vaccination campaigns, which build the credibility of the Haitian government and build the capacity of participating communities are a logical place to start. HII appreciates the efforts of all organizations involved, and hopes that this campaign will be successful. Haiti's children deserve no less.
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