PAHO Director reiterates commitment to support the Haitian people in their fight against COVID-19
Today Haiti received 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines donated by the United States through the COVAX Facility. The country is the fourth in the region to receive these donated shipments, after Honduras, El Salvador and Bolivia, with a total of 4,008,000 doses delivered so far.
“The arrival of these vaccines is quite promising and now the challenge is to get them to the people that need them the most,” said Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne. “PAHO, along with other partners, is committed to supporting the Haitian people in these uncertain times and urges other international organizations to join us in supporting the COVID response.”
The donation is part of the U.S. government’s plans to increase COVID-19 vaccination coverage in other countries around the world, counter new waves of infection, and prioritize vaccination of health care workers and other vulnerable populations in neighboring countries in need of vaccines. The U.S government has pledged to donate some 12 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to countries in the Caribbean and Latin America.
“These vaccines, which have obtained WHO emergency use license, will be administered free of charge to the Haitian population,” declared Dr. Marie Gréta Roy Clément, Haiti’s Minister of Public Health and Population. “In public health, vaccination remains one of the most effective interventions. This first allocation of vaccines puts an end to a long period of waiting, an end to a long period of waiting not only for the Haitian population but also for the people of the region who were very concerned that Haiti was the only country in the Americas that had not yet introduced the COVID 19 vaccine,” added the Minister.
The Revolving Fund and the PAHO Representation in Haiti has worked with the U.S. and Haitian authorities and the COVAX Facility on logistics and other relevant aspects to ensure that these vaccines arrived promptly and safely and are ready for deployment as soon as possible.
“Over the last few weeks, PAHO has delivered significant personal protective equipment, helped expand care for COVID-19 patients and provided thousands of tests and laboratory materials to strengthen surveillance activities in Haiti,” added Dr. Etienne. “We have also helped train community health workers and have supported the Ministry of Health in preparing for COVID-19 vaccine introduction and setting up new systems to dispel rumors and COVID misinformation.”
Context on U.S. vaccine donations through COVAX
The COVAX Mechanism for vaccine sharing makes it possible for countries to share doses with others that have secured self-funded allocations through the Mechanism or through bilateral agreements, thereby helping to increase vaccine coverage, help ensure that no doses are wasted, and work to end the acute phase of the pandemic.
In addition to the United States, the governments of Spain, Canada and others have donated vaccines and other support for Latin America and the Caribbean. PAHO has expressed its gratitude and continues calling on more developed countries to help expand access to vaccines for the region.
So far, close to 26 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered to 31 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean through COVAX. However, only about 14% of the total population in the Caribbean and Latin America has completed their vaccination schedule, and some countries have not yet been able to vaccinate more than 1% of their population.
Until vaccination is widespread among the population, public health measures remain the basis of the response to the pandemic. For public health authorities, this means continued screening, contact tracing, isolation, assisted quarantine and quality care. And for individuals, it means continuing to practice physical distancing, hand hygiene, use of masks, ventilation of spaces, and avoidance of crowds.