FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 2018

U.S. NGO plans Haiti cholera vaccination campaign

A U.S. non-governmental organization is planning to start a ground-breaking cholera vaccination campaign in Haiti in January, as experts warned that efforts to combat the year-old epidemic were badly faltering.
Paul Farmer, the co-founder of the Boston-based Partners in Health, said that Haiti's cholera epidemic has now become the most serious in the world proportionate to the size of the ravaged Caribbean nation. Close to 500,000 Haitians out of a population of more than 9.5 million have been sickened by the disease and more than 6,500 have died in just one year's time, Reuters reports.
Working with a Haitian medical NGO, PIH plans to start administering an oral vaccine in January with a goal of treating 100,000 people in two areas  - one an urban zone of the nation's capital and the other a rural community in the epicenter of the epidemic. PIH officials said some 200,000 doses of the Shanchol vaccine were available for purchase.
"If we can get started and show it's feasible, we will be able to gain more leverage ... already there's momentum around this, it will help others to get on board," Louise Ivers, PIH's senior health and policy advisor, told the conference call, according to Reuters.
Farmer said he and Ivers were campaigning to raise the funds required to support the limited vaccination program. PIH announced the initiative as multiple health charities, including the International Medical Corps and Doctors Without Borders, warned that anti-cholera efforts in Haiti were running out of momentum and financial support.
"Even though the international community has pledged huge sums of money to assist Haiti, thousands of Haitians are still getting sick from cholera every week and some are still dying," Romain Gitenet, the  MSF Haiti mission chief said in a statement, according to Reuters.