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Haiti

The Children's Villages in Santo, near Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien are home to children from Haiti who face some of the poorest conditions in the world. SOS Children's Villages has been working here since 1982 and has also provided aid during natural disasters occurring in Haiti … more about our charity work in Haiti

Vaccination campaign has begun in Haiti

A new vaccination campaign against cholera has been launched in Haiti by the government and international partners such as the World Health Organization.

Since the cholera epidemic started in the autumn of 2010, over 7,000 Haitians have died from the disease. Certain health experts have been suggesting for some time that a vaccination programme should take place, since controlling the disease is incredibly hard in a country like Haiti, with poor levels of hygiene and a lack of clean water.

100,000 people in the most vulnerable areas of Haiti will initially be targeted for vaccination. The first doses of the vaccine were delivered to residents of a slum area known as Cite de Dieu in the capital Port-au-Prince. Health workers have been delivering the vaccine to each household where people have pre-registered. Recipients will receive two doses, which is effective to around 65% and lasts for two to three years.

The initiative will provide vaccinations mainly to two areas of the country, in the west and northern Artibonite region. If successful, the programme will then be extended to the rest of the country. In a Reuters article, the Haitian Health Minister rejected suggestions that the vaccine was experimental and the drugs unapproved. The Minister said the vaccine had been “certified by the World Health Organization” and that “people have nothing to fear” from taking it.

Cases of cholera have been rising over recent weeks as torrential rain has hit some areas, helping to spread the bacteria which cause the disease. Since October 2010, almost 550,000 Haitians have been infected and treatment centres have struggled to cope when cases surge. At the height of the epidemic, centres were seeing around 1,000 new sufferers each day, though this has dropped to between 100-200 at the present time. However, health workers are bracing themselves for a rise in the number of those infected when the rainy season begins.

The decision to implement a vaccination programme comes at a time when services provided by some international agencies are being cut back. A lack of funding among some organisations has led to shortfalls in money for areas such as the provision of clean water and sanitation assistance to those still living in camps. This is a serious concern as health workers trying to combat the cholera epidemic. The disease is easily prevented when people are able to carry out basic hygiene practices such as washing hands.

Almost half a million Haitians still live in the temporary camps set up after the earthquake of January 2010. The government of Haiti have made it one of their priorities to rebuild homes, but with difficulties finding suitable land and the failure of some bodies to release promised aid funding, progress remains slow.

Read more about SOS Children's work in Haiti.

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