Where The Vaccines Coming From?
Tuesday, 03/27/12 12:01am - Morning Edition
A young girl bathes in an irrigation canal.
The canal and nearby river are the primary sources of water for most people who live in the country around St. Marc. A hundred thousand people in Haiti are ready and waiting to get vaccinated against cholera.
The vaccine is sitting in coolers.
Vaccination teams are all trained.
Willing recipients are registered and entered into databases.
The impending mass vaccination project aims to show that vaccinating against cholera is feasible in Haiti.
It's never been done in the midst of an ongoing cholera epidemic.
So far, more than 530,000 Haitians have fallen ill with cholera, and over 7,000 have died.
But the vaccination campaign is bogged down in bureaucratic red tape.
Meanwhile, the spring rains are beginning.
Cholera cases are starting to climb, because the floods spread the cholera bacterium around.
"We know it's going to rain, we know it's going to flood," says Dr. Vanessa Rouzier.
"So we are afraid we are wasting precious time."
Rouzier works with GHESKIO, a Haitian medical group that's organizing the vaccination project in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital.
The rural arm is sponsored by Partners in Health in the Artibonite River Valley, where cholera first appeared.
The two groups have been planning the demonstration project for more than a year.
Initially it was opposed by a previous Haitian government, in part because international agencies such as the World Health Organization and Pan American Health Organization were against it. Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also opposed it privately.
But the WHO last November approved the dollar-a-dose vaccine that's ready to be used in Haiti, the PAHO now favors the project, and the current government of Michel Martelly indicated approval last December.
The CDC representative in Haiti says it's supportive and interested in the outcome.
Now the project is waiting approval from a national ethics committee, which wants assurance that the vaccine is no longer considered experimental.
To show how the campaign would work
Where The Vaccins Coming From?
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