July 25, 2021

“Haiti has still not inoculated the slightest vaccine, and that is very worrying”

A mixture of gravity and worry can be read on the faces, as well as fatigue. In the aftermath of the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on Wednesday, July 7, by an armed commando of around thirty men, the few Haitians to venture into the streets convey the image of a country in distress and of ‘extreme vulnerability. Added to the daily challenge of working and surviving on this exhausting island has been added uncertainty about the country’s future. The price of basic necessities is starting to rise again and water is scarce in certain areas of the capital. Several pumping facilities have been destroyed by gangs. The fuel shortage across the country seems to be here for a long time.

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“The Covid-19? It may wreak havoc, it is the least of our many worries “, summarizes Sergo, street vendor and occasional driver in Port-au-Prince, reached by WhatsApp. And yet. Since February, Haiti has been affected by a worrying wave of coronavirus, the magnitude of which is still poorly understood. A wave that is hardly visible and little publicized but which could take alarming proportions and plunge the whole island and its 11.5 million inhabitants into a new health disaster if it were to continue. The country is, to date, the only one on the American continent, the region most affected by the pandemic in the world, to have not vaccinated any of its citizens. It is also the country with one of the most dysfunctional health systems in the world.

Doctor Chauvel Alcy, at Justinien University Hospital, in Cap-Haitien (Haiti), June 26, 2021.

By way of comparison, in the Dominican Republic, its neighbor, nearly half of the population received at least one dose (7.5 million vaccines inoculated). The situation is considered sufficiently worrying that the United States, where a large Haitian community of more than a million people lives, has repeatedly repeated its commitment to help the island. On June 28 again, a tweet from the American embassy in Port-au-Prince affirmed that the White House is working with the Haitian government on how to deliver vaccines ” as soon as possible “, without specifying a date. And for good reason.

In May, nearly 132,000 doses of AstraZeneca from the United Nations Covax program, loaded on a ship, remained at the dock after the Haitian authorities expressed reservations about the possible side effects and recalled the lack of infrastructure allowing the refrigeration of vaccines on the island. On June 14, the rumor announced this time that a plane was going to land in Port-au-Prince with thousands of doses. The aircraft never took off. According to an official of Unicef, the United Nations children’s fund, the flight was canceled at the last moment, without further details.

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