Haiti’s Ministry of Health organizing a vaccination campaign against cholera in areas affected by Hurricane Matthew, supported by PAHO-WHO, UNICEF and other partners

Haiti’s Ministry of Health organizing a vaccination campaign against cholera in areas affected by Hurricane Matthew, supported by PAHO-WHO, UNICEF and other partners
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 27 Oct. 2016– The Haitian Ministry of Health (MSPP) is setting up a vaccination campaign against cholera in areas ravaged by Hurricane Matthew, with support from the Pan American Health Organization / World Health Organization (PAHO / WHO).

The decision of WHO and other member of the Global Task Force for Cholera Control to approve the request of the MSPP to bring 1 million doses of oral vaccine against cholera is based on the goal of reducing the burden of cholera cases on health care facilities, and of reducing deaths in the departments of the Sud and Grand’Anse, the areas most affected by Hurricane Matthew.

The target population is estimated at over 820,000 people over one year of age. The vaccination campaign will begin November 8, 2016. Activities will focus on the municipalities most vulnerable to cholera outbreaks in the two southern departments of Grand’Anse and Sud, where there has been significant destruction of water and sanitation supply systems.

Haiti’s Minister of Public Health, Dr. Daphne Benoit, said that the emergency vaccination campaign was taking place in tragic circumstances that have affected the populations of the south. “The vaccine is an additional intervention which will help us to save lives, but does not replace the efforts that the government supports in the field of water and sanitation,” she emphasized.

PAHO-WHO Representative Dr. Jean-Luc Poncelet stressed the importance of the leadership of MSPP in this vaccination campaign, which “will contribute to limit the suffering of individuals and families affected by Hurricane Matthew.” Some municipalities in the south west peninsula have reported outbreaks of cholera since the hurricane hit on October 4, “so it is important to work together and with partners to build local capacity for clinical management of cases in the cholera treatment centers,” he said.

Poncelet noted that PAHO-WHO will support the Ministry of Health in activities including development of tools and technical support as well as reception, storage and transport of the vaccines and supplies in departments, municipalities and institutions. PAHO/WHO will also support training of vaccination staff supervisors and operators, and the coordination, collection and analysis of information, monitoring and evaluation.

Since Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti on October 4, significant increases in suspected cases of cholera and deaths have been reported from several places in the departments of Sud and Grand’Anse.

Numerous partners that work in Haiti are supporting the cholera vaccination campaign, including UNICEF, GHESKIO, Partners in Health, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), International Medical Corps and others.


25 October 2016
Tarik Jasarevic, for the World Health Organization (WHO), said that 500,0000 cholera vaccines had arrived on 22 October and another 500,000 had arrived on 24 October in Port-au-Prince. The one million vaccines had been sent to Haiti following a decision of the Global Taskforce on Cholera Control, taken on 10 October. Vaccination was expected to start early in the week of 31 October, or even on 30 October, in affected departments of Haiti, Sud and Grand Anse. The objective of the campaign was to reduce the burden of cholera cases on health care facilities and reduce deaths in departments affected by the hurricane, preventing cholera’s further spread to neighboring departments, including to the capital Port-au-Prince. WHO was in the process of preparing the campaign and would keep the press informed.

In response to a question, Mr. Jasarevic said that as of 17 October there were 465 suspected cholera cases in Grand Anse and 684 in Sud. There was a decrease and stabilization of admissions in cholera treatment centres operating in the two departments, but the peak of cases followed by a rapid decline was to be expected. A second peak could not be excluded given the current situation with water and sanitation. That is why it was important to proceed with the emergency vaccination campaign, and why the Global Taskforce had decided to send the vaccines.

In response to other questions, he said that there would be a single-dose strategy, allowing to cover twice as many people as if the classical two-dose strategy was to be applied. The protection would be lesser, 60 to 70 per cent for severe cases, and shorter in duration, but the objective was to vaccinate as many people as possible in affected areas and to try to reduce the burden. The target population was all persons over one year of age. The protection with a single dose would be less than a year. Out of the one million doses, 700,000 would be moved to the two departments in question as the target population was 655,000 people so far. Some prioritization would be done to vaccinate in communes where people could be rapidly accessed and where the impact would be the biggest, in urban centres where there was more density and an increased risk of transmission. Some 300,000 vaccines would remain in the capital for the time being…