Are Stealth Oral Cholera Vaccines in Haiti’s Recently ‘Expanded Program of Immunization’?



Vaccination a priority for the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP)

English | French

Editorial comment

People familiar with the actions in India, Peru, and Bangladesh by the oral cholera vaccine merchants say “they will never quit.” It is up to us to remain vigilant as they recast themselves in various lights.

The promotion of oral cholera vaccines by NGO-patron-saint Paul Farmer has quieted down since the clear demonstration that his ideas are at odds with those of cholera experts such as Prof. Richard A. Finkelstein and also since the discovery that a group of AIDS researchers called Gheskio would be involved in the vaccinations. Given that cholera is caused by bacteria in drinking water, whereas AIDS is caused by a virus during sex, the proposed involvement of Gheskio in a cholera vaccination program is worrying.

The same major players persist, however: namely the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and World Health Organization (WHO), both belonging to the UN. PAHO has behaved dishonorably with regard to Haiti’s cholera epidemic, and WHO is reputed to have behaved unethically in medical trials in other countries.

Recall that PAHO’s first response on learning of the Haiti cholera epidemic was to request large sums of money from the public. Consider also that, as the branch of the UN directly responsible for health, PAHO should have been aware of the occurrence of cholera on the Nepalese UN base in Mirebalais. The illness was not exactly subtle, since the equivalent of a bathtub of choleric wastes is estimated to have been produced on the base and then dumped into the Artibonite River.

More recently, cholera expert Prof. Richard A. Finkelstein made it known that he wrote in Dec 2010 to health officials in Haiti including Jon Andrus, the Deputy Director of PAHO, that the proposed use of the vaccine Dukoral was “a useless and expensive waste of resources.” This vaccine was not adopted, but a campaign immediately started for the use of Shanchol, another questionable oral cholera vaccine. Shanchol contains 6-30 times the allowable levels of the mercury-based preservative thiomersal. Lately, the vaccine merchants have been challenging the link between thiomersal and autism in children; whether or not such a link can be definitely proven, drinking 6-30 times the allowable levels of a chemical with mercury is dangerous to health.

In any case, however inoffensive the current “Expanded Program of Immunization (EPI)” might appear, the involvements of PAHO and WHO should sound alarm bells.

Haitian parents would do well to refuse to drink liquids and to forbid their children to drink liquids as part any vaccination campaign, whatever its name.

Dady Chery, Editor
Haiti Chery


By Aline Sainsoivil
Le Matin

Translated from the French by Dady Chery for Haiti Chery

Vaccination of children remains a major concern for the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP). This Monday, March 12, a meeting was held at the Hotel Montana to present the status and objectives of the national immunization program.

In the presence of representatives from several partner health institutions partners, including UNICEF, PAHO-WHO, the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) presented a plan to strengthen the Expanded Program of Immunization (EPI). Work has been undertaken since 2011 to strengthen the program, reported Dr. Ronald Jean Cadet, EPI manager.

A comprehensive multi-year plan (CHP) for the period 2011-2015, a plan to strengthen the cold chain and put in place institutional and strategic policies were among other measures taken last year. The MSPP has also documented and verified the elimination of measles, rubella and CRS. He announced the introduction of three new vaccines in 2012, namely penta, pneumo and rota.

The MSPP drew particular attention to the importance of routine immunization that must ensure maximum coverage in the entire territory. Indeed, it aims to reach 90% within one year with all EPI vaccines by 2015, with the exception of BCG. In this regard, strengthening the program and financial sustainability are priorities for the ministry.

To achieve its objectives, the MSPP has developed strategies, including epidemiological surveillance, an integrated communication plan, an effective cold chain in at least 80% of institutions affiliated to the EPI. The cold chain includes storage means, transport, staff training, and information. Verification of injection and waste management will be included in the program.

For his part, Dr. Jeannot Francois, spoke on intensive activities for child health. He noted that a significant number of children, or 273,860, have missed the vaccination program since 2008. This figure represents more than a birth cohort evaluated at 252,664 children.

“The epidemic is upon us, we must make a decision,” he claimed.

[What epidemic might this be, if Dr. Francois is not talking about a cholera vaccination? DC]

In addition, he brought up the risk of reintroduction of wild strains of measles and polyo due to the precarious sanitation and lack of vitamin A. He plans to vaccinate 2,519,685 children between 0 and 9 years old and women 15 to 49 who accompany their children. The strategies are, among others, the door to door, muster stations, visiting schools and markets.

The Minister of Public Health, Mrs. Florence Duperval William, in a press briefing at the end of the ceremony, expressed her determination.

“We want to vaccinate 100% of children under one year,” she said.

A case of polio can give us a handicapped that we will support for all his life. We cannot watch a child die of tetanus or diphtheria when we could avoid it, without feeling guilty, she argued.

Ms. Duperval calls for the support of the private sector. While guaranteeing her leadership, she reiterated her commitment to the fight for the children to become “worthy adults and leaders of tomorrow.”

Source: Le Matin (French) | Haiti Chery (English)



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