Direct Relief International is playing a major role in a historic campaign to vaccinate 2.5 million Haitian children under 10 years old. Working with global medical technology company BD, Direct Relief is supplying BD syringes and needles to make these immunizations possible. The vaccination will be provided without cost, and the initial focus will be on measles, rubella, and polio.
Haiti’s Minister of Public Health and Population will formally launch the campaign on Saturday, April 21st with participation by Direct Relief’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Manager Andrew MacCalla. U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius announced the campaign, spearheaded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the international GAVI Alliance, as she visited Haiti on Sunday.
Two years after the earthquake that took a quarter of a million lives and left millions more injured and homeless, Direct Relief has been among the largest supporters of medical material aid to Haiti, providing over 1,000 tons of life-saving medications and medical supplies valued at $70 million wholesale.
“The rapid, tragic spread of cholera in Haiti is a sharp reminder of the importance of immunizations against communicable diseases, particularly for children who are often most vulnerable,” said MacCalla. “BD’s extensive commitment of needles and syringes is essential to this important pediatric-vaccination campaign in Haiti, and Direct Relief is of course very thankful to be able to participate in such a meaningful way.”
Direct Relief now supports over 115 health facilities throughout the country with essential medical resources to care for people, especially those who have suffered from the cholera epidemic. (See interactive map of Direct Relief’s work in Haiti here: http://www.directrelief.org/wp-content/flash/Haiti_Aid_Distribution/)
“BD has a long history of supporting Haiti through our nonprofit collaborations, and this opportunity to vaccinate so many children – who are already facing significant challenges – will give them and future generations a better chance to live healthier lives,” said Michael Garrison, Sr. Business Director with BD Medical – Medical Surgical Systems.
In letters from the Department of Health and Human Services, Direct Relief International and BD were thanked for their outstanding participation in the immunization campaign and the impact it will have on the region: “Your assistance not only benefits Haiti’s national immunization program but also the region of the Americas in its effort to protect the achievement of its elimination of the measles and rubella to date. The success of Haiti’s upcoming rounds of immunization in increasing vaccination coverage rates will play an important role in Haiti’s documentation of the elimination of measles, rubella, and Congenital Rubella Syndrome necessary for regional verification,” writes Dr. Kevin DeCock, the Director of the Center for Global Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. Anne Schuchat, U.S. Public Health Service Assistant Surgeon General.