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At a glance: Haiti

Haiti Launches Vaccination Week

© UNICEF Haiti/Delvigne-Jean
Children at the launch.

By Thierry Delvigne-Jean

FOND PARISIEN, Haiti 27 April - Millions of children across the Americas will be vaccinated this week as part of an unprecedented campaign led by UNICEF. “Vaccination: an act of love,” will aim to reach the most isolated and vulnerable children in countries such as Haiti where basic health care is often difficult to obtain.

The recent uprising in Haiti worsened an infrastructure that was already damaged and many vaccination stockpiles were destroyed. The campaign will focus on children most at risk, many of whom have never been immunized.

The small village of Fond Parisien, on the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, is home to some of the world’s poorest children. But this week they are celebrating the launch of Vaccination Week - a campaign that could save millions of lives.

This region is so isolated that half the children do not receive routine vaccination against preventable diseases. Many have never been immunized at all. One child in ten will die before the age of five.

© UNICEF Haiti/Delvigne-Jean
A young girl at the launch.

UNICEF Regional Director Nils Kastberg says Vaccination Week is a great opportunity for countries such as Haiti to catch up with their immunization programmes and make a real difference.

“Haiti is a problem country for us in the sense that 1.3 million children are not completing their vaccination schedule,” said Kastberg. “Obviously we would like to move to our routine immunization process but it will take a little while. At the moment, the campaign at least is trying to get us back to a good footing, coverage for every child in the Americas.”

Over the summer more than 1.3 million children in Haiti and 1.1 million in the Dominican Republic will be protected against polio and measles and other life threatening illnesses. A vitamin supplement will also be given to children under five.

A quarter of a million women will also be vaccinated against tetanus, another disease that kills people every year in Haiti. For these villagers the programme is more than a health campaign – it’s a sign that normality is returning to a country plagued by civil unrest. It is one of the fist important steps towards long term reconstruction.



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