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Belize wins Caribbean Immunization Surveillance Award

Posted: Friday, November 3, 2023. 8:45 am CST.

By Zoila Palma Gonzalez: At the end of the 37th Meeting of Caribbean Immunization managers held from 30-31 October, Belize emerged as the winner of the surveillance award presented by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Guyana and Barbados won second and third place and the Henry Smith Award for most improved immunization coverage in 2022 was awarded to the Turks & Caicos Islands.

Dr. Karen Broome, PAHO Advisor, Immunization, reported that the Caribbean subregion has reversed the decline in vaccination coverage that occurred in 2020 and 2021 with improvements in the third doses of DPT3 (94%), Polio3 (92%) and MMR1 (91%) recorded in 2022 but there is still work to be done with, MMR2 and HPV vaccines, which continue to struggle to meet the 95% and 80% targets respectively.

Belize’s EPI Manager, Dr. Liliane Middleton was excited to take the first place. 

She described it as a testament to the hard work of public and private health professionals and noted that Belize was focused on strengthening surveillance indicators, recording more samples, getting more people trained and retrained and going into the community to promote and provide vaccines.

“I am so excited.  I am delighted.  Emotional… because I did not expect for us to win that prize.  I was speechless.  It is a great feeling because we got the support from the staff and so winning this prize is a joyful feeling.  I know the staff out there is happy, so it is an honour that we won this prize,” Dr. Middleton expressed.

During the meeting, participants received updates on the program in the Americas, in the Caribbean, the status of the Measles/Rubella and Polio Elimination and received updates from the PAHO Revolving Fund. 

Country reports from Barbados, Belize, Grenada, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas were also presented.

The meeting concluded with an ‘Effective Communication for Vaccine Uptake for Caribbean EPI Managers’ workshop which included communicating vaccination related risks, integrating gender, and intersectionality into risk communication and community engagement and navigating discourse among marginalised communities.

The Henry C Smith Immunisation Award was established in 2004 in honour of the first PAHO-EPI Technical Officer for the Caribbean subregion. 

His formal service in the sub-region spanned from 1977 to 1995. 

He attended this year’s meeting and is still active in providing guidance to Caribbean Immunisation Programmes today through his participation in the CITAG.

The Immunisation trophy was established in 2001 by EPI-CAREC (Caribbean Epidemiology Centre), on behalf of the Family and Community Health, Immunisation Unit at PAHO.

 

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