Tetanus vaccine saves lives in Haiti

The only vaccines available at a clinic in Cité-Soleil, the poorest neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince in Haiti, are the tetanus vaccines donated by GlaxoSmithKline through Health Partners International of Canada.

“The staff is very happy to have the vaccines,” says Joyce Chiles, Medical Team Coordinator for Samaritan’s Purse International Relief, an on-the-ground partner of HPIC. “There is so much debris and rubble that tetanus is a big concern. These vaccines are certainly saving lives.”

Five-thousand doses of vaccine were airlifted Feb. 6 courtesy of Air Canada and are still being administered to adults who come to the clinic. Between 50-100 patients are seen every day.

“Anyone with a wound is being encouraged to get the vaccine,” Chiles says. “Some doctors are giving it to all adults as a precaution.”

Two months after the devastating earthquake hit Haiti, people are stressed and mostly living in tents and under makeshift plastic shelters. “Everyone’s grieving and life is very stressful for these people who have lost everything and must depend on the World Food Program for food,” Chiles reports.

Chiles, who was in Indonesia following the tsunami in 2005, says that the recovery in Haiti will be much longer. “Buildings that survived are badly damaged and will have to be torn down,” she says.

“Most people who had minor injuries have recovered now,” she says. “However, there is still so much debris that there are new injuries. We really appreciate this donation.”