Pilot programme targets Haiti cholera
100,000 people to be vaccinated.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Wednesday April 18, 2012 – The Haitian government, along with international partners including the World Health Organization (WHO), has begun an anti-cholera vaccination campaign targeting 100,000 people in vulnerable areas of the country.
Health practitioners are currently going door-to-door to deliver doses to pre-registered recipients in the slum areas of Cite de Dieu in the Haitian capital.
More than 7,000 Haitians have died of cholera since an epidemic broke out in 2010.
The director-general of the health department, Dr Gabriel Thimote, said the 100,000 beneficiaries in two regions in the west and northern Artibonite region will receive two doses of the vaccine Shanchol that will provide protection for two to three years with an efficiency rate of about 65 percent.
“It is a pilot programme that we are launching in two areas in the country, but it will be later extended to the rest of the population with a priority for some areas at risk,” Thimote added.
The Haitian health minister, Florence Duperval Guillaume, rejected allegations that the vaccine is an experimental drug that could have side-effects. The vaccination programme was delayed several weeks after some critics suggested the campaign was a research project to test new, unapproved drugs.
“This is vaccine that has already been certified by the World Health Organization, and our campaign has nothing to do with an experimentation that could have recipients running risks,” Guillaume said. “People have nothing to fear.”
The number of cases of cholera has increased slightly in Haiti over the past few weeks, with frequent torrential rains spreading the bacteria in several areas where health officials had brought the disease under control.
Health workers continue to see 100-200 new cases per day, but warn the daily rate could surge to 1,000 during the rainy season.