hen the first Haitian fell victim
to cholera in October 2010,
it caught everyone off guard.
“It was a surprise because cholera hadn’t
existed in the country for at least the last
100 years,” says Jean-Luc Poncelet, MD,
Haiti representative, Pan American Health
Organization (PAHO), which is a regional
office of the United Nations’ World Health
Organization (WHO). “Because it was new,
it made a huge impact there.”
Unfamiliar with the infectious disease,
doctors and nurses didn’t know how to
diagnose or treat it. Along with poor water
sanitation systems, that made Haiti ripe for trans-
mission. By July 2014, the outbreak had sickened
more than 703,000 people and killed over 8,500.
In support of the Haiti Ministry of Public Health
and Population’s plan to eradicate cholera by 2022,
PAHO carried out a vaccination project in 2014.
(The United Nations Central Emergency Response
Fund paid for the vaccines.) Along with projects to
secure clean water supplies and foster good sanitation practices, “vaccination is a very useful tool in
the elimination of cholera transmissions,” says Dr.
Poncelet, who is based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Project planning commenced in May and execution began in August, with 370 vaccination teams
consisting of 1,222 health workers and community
agents fanning out across the country. By mid-September—less than three weeks later—200,000
people in three of Haiti’s nine national districts had
been immunized against cholera.
“When you execute a campaign like this one, you
American Health Organization/World Health
Organization, Haiti Ministry of Public Health and
Population, U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and
The Pan American Health
Organization brought 400,000
doses of oral cholera vaccine to
Haiti in July 2014.
30 PM NETWORK FEBRUARY 2015 WWW.PMI.ORG