Canada to boost Haiti’s health system with CAD$6 million initiative
WASHINGTON, (CMC) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on Wednesday welcomed the announcement by Canada of a joint initiative to support Haiti to expand vaccination against potentially lethal vaccine-preventable diseases, including polio, measles, diphtheria and tetanus.
The partnership, which is part of Canada’s Global Initiative for Vaccine Equity (CanGIVE), will inject over CAD$6 million into the Haitian health system to bolster vaccination outreach and operations throughout the country.
The contribution was announced by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the first Canada-Caribbean Community (Caricom) summit that began in Ottawa, Canada on Wednesday.
“Our national immunisation programmes have suffered serious setbacks over the last decade,” PAHO Director Dr Jarbas Barbosa said.
“We have witnessed decreases in vaccination coverage rates, inadequate sustainable financing for immunisations, and increasing vaccine hesitancy linked in part to misinformation,” Barbosa added.
He said that with the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbating this decline, the risk of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks is now “at a 30-year high”.
PAHO said that the risk of disease outbreaks in Haiti is compounded by a precarious security situation which has recently pushed thousands into improvised shelters and is impeding the proper functioning of health facilities, with several hospitals and clinics struggling to provide essential health services.
Through CanGIVE, PAHO and Canada will work together to help Haiti vaccinate its population against COVID-19 as well as against the diseases included in the regional immunisation program, such as polio, rubella, congenital rubella syndrome, measles, diphtheria, and neonatal tetanus.
CanGIVE will focus on reaching marginalised communities in Haiti, including people living in deep urban and rural poverty.
The programme will bolster gender-sensitive vaccination operations that meet the needs of women and girls, who are often likewise marginalised.
In addition, the CanGIVE collaboration will support communications efforts to build vaccine confidence among the general population and increase vaccine uptake in the country.