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HAITI - Vaccination, sanitation still major concerns for country

Published:Wednesday | February 24, 2010 | 12:00 AM


The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday said that more than 60,000 people in earthquake-devastated Haiti have been vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus and other diseases, but additional teams are urgently needed to wrap up this immunisation campaign.

WHO spokesperson Paul Garwood said that the campaign, which kicked off on February 16, has so far reached some 62,000 people, or 10 per cent of the target population. He said local staff trained by the Ministry of Health, along with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), were also helping to administer the immunisations.

Garwood also noted that there have been no recorded increases in outbreaks of infectious diseases. He said respiratory infections were the main cause of illness, followed by trauma, injury, diarrhoea and suspected malaria cases.

Meanwhile, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has named sanitation as one of its main priorities for the one million people displaced by the January 12 earthquake, which claimed more than 200,000 lives.

UNICEF has signed an agreement with a local NGO for 1,200 young people to build 1,000 sanitation blocs comprising latrines, showers and hand-washing areas.

For its part, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that the number of people who had fled the city has risen to nearly 600,000.

An estimated 160,000 people have left the capital for the area near Haiti's border with the Dominican Republic, seeking refuge with already poor host families whose household numbers have swelled from five to 15 people as a result, OCHA spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs said.