American Red Cross Funds Pioneer Cholera Vaccine Distribution

The American Red Cross has contributed $1 million to purchase and distribute oral cholera vaccinations to 100,000 people in urban and rural Haitian communities.

The Red Cross funding will support a $1.3 million vaccination project led by the Boston-based nonprofit Partners In Health, the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population, and the Haitian nonprofit, GHESKIO. This project is part of an ongoing effort to improve control and prevent the spread of the disease that has claimed more than 7,000 lives since its outbreak more than a year ago. The cholera epidemic in Haiti is currently the largest outbreak in the world.

“Support from the American Red Cross is essential to our delivering this safe, affordable and effective oral cholera vaccine in Haiti. While access to clean water and sanitation systems is the ultimate solution to stopping the spread of cholera, we must utilize all tools available to help prevent continued needless deaths,” said Dr. Louise Ivers, Senior Health and Policy Advisor to Partners In Health and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The vaccine, Shanchol, is delivered in two doses. Shanchol has been pre-qualified by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is 65 to 75 percent effective in protecting recipients for at least 36 months. Ultimately, the vaccine must be part of a comprehensive approach to cholera control, which requires aggressive case finding and treatment as well as the development of safe water and sanitation systems.

The goal of the complementary vaccine will be twofold: to protect some of Haiti’s most vulnerable people and to inform the Haitian Ministry of Health on the feasibility of scaling up delivery of the cholera vaccine on a national level.

To date, the American Red Cross has contributed more than $17 million to fight the cholera outbreak in Haiti, including providing medical specialists and supplies, running treatment centers, and focusing on the delivery of clean water and sanitation to affected communities. Additionally, the global Red Cross network launched a massive educational campaign to teach people how to reduce the spread of cholera.

The American Red Cross has provided an additional $11 million dollars in funding to partner organizations focusing on health care in the two years since the earthquake, including $5.5 million dollars to support construction and initial operating costs of Mirebalais National Teaching Hospital, built by Partners in Health in collaboration with the Haitian Ministry of Health.

About Partners in Health Partners In Health (PIH) works in 10 countries around the world to provide quality healthcare to people and communities devastated by joint burdens of poverty and disease. PIH has been providing vital healthcare services in Haiti for more than 20 years and is the largest healthcare provider in the country, working with the Haitian Ministry of Health to deliver comprehensive healthcare services to a catchment area of 1.2 million across the Central Plateau and Lower Artibonite Valley. For more information, visit www.pih.org