Expansion of vaccination services and strengthening vaccine-preventable diseases surveillance in Haiti, 2010-2016

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2017
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Following the 2010 earthquake, Haiti was at heightened risk for vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) outbreaks due to the exacerbation of long-standing gaps in the vaccination program and subsequent risk of VPD importation from other countries. Therefore, partners supported the Haitian Ministry of Health and Population to improve vaccination services and VPD surveillance. During 2010-2016, three polio, measles, and rubella vaccination campaigns were implemented, achieving a coverage > 90% among children and maintaining Haiti free of those VPDs. Furthermore, Haiti is on course to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus, with 70% of communes achieving tetanus vaccine two-dose coverage > 80% among women of childbearing age. In addition, the vaccine cold chain storage capacity increased by 91% at the central level and 285% at the department level, enabling the introduction of three new vaccines (pentavalent, rotavirus, and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines) that could prevent an estimated 5,227 deaths annually. Haiti moved from the fourth worst performing country in the Americas in 2012 to the sixth best performing country in 2015 for adequate investigation of suspected measles/rubella cases. Sentinel surveillance sites for rotavirus diarrhea and meningococcal meningitis were established to estimate baseline rates of those diseases prior to vaccine introduction and to evaluate the impact of vaccination in the future. In conclusion, Haiti significantly improved vaccination services and VPD surveillance. However, high dependence on external funding and competing vaccination program priorities are potential threats to sustaining the improvements achieved thus far. Political commitment and favorable economic and legal environments are needed to maintain these gains.