Three million Haitian children were vaccinated for measles, rubella, and polio in a campaign established by Haiti’s Ministry of Health and supported by Direct Relief.
The campaign’s success comes as the country looks back on the introduction of cholera two Octobers ago, which quickly grew to an epidemic. 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.
Direct Relief played a pivotal role in assisting Haiti’s Ministry of Health in their monumental campaign— which began in April as a certification effort— to vaccinate 2.5 million children against measles, rubella, and polio.
Launched under the theme, “Protect our world, get vaccinated,” the campaign sought to vaccinate all children under age 10 against measles, rubella, and polio—free-of-charge. Additionally, vitamin A was provided at not cost to children and pregnant women to combat malnutrition as well as albendozale to protect against parasites.
Working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the medical device company Beckton-Dickinson (BD), a long-time Direct Relief donor, Direct Relief was able to obtain and distribute over 700,000 needles and syringes to be used in the campaign.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services thanked Direct Relief and BD for 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,” wrote 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.
Direct Relief supports more than 115 health facilities in Haiti and has been providing essential medicines and supplies to hospitals in the country since 1964. Over the last 48 years, Direct Relief has worked with local hospitals and clinics, delivering 1,500 tons of essential medications and supplies worth $82 million, and is the largest supplier of donated medicines to Haiti since the 2010 earthquake.