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Shot@Life in Honduras: A Vaccination Success Story

January 20, 2012

This week, Shot@Life, a movement to protect children worldwide by providing life-saving vaccines where they are most needed, was in Honduras with a delegation of U.S. policymakers.

For many in the delegation, it was their first time to Central America. This trip was a great opportunity for all of us to see firsthand the impact of the United Nations and U.S. government efforts to improve the health of families and children around the world.

Why did we choose Honduras?

Honduras is a vaccination success story. In spite of significant challenges, the country has proven that vaccination programs can be implemented in what may initially seem to be some of the most challenging places in the world.

Despite being the second poorest country in Latin America and placing near the bottom of the human development index ranking (a composite statistic that considers life expectancy, literacy, education, and living standards) among countries in the Western Hemisphere, Honduras is a shining example of the difference that investments in vaccinations can make.

At the start of the last decade, Honduras reported more than 850 cases of mumps, more than 35,000 cases of malaria, and more than 400 cases of tuberculosis.

But over the span of little more than a decade:

  • U.S. support of health investments made through U.N. partner organizations (particularly the Pan American Health Organization, or PAHO) and the Honduran Ministry of Health have contributed to an 80% decrease in mumps, a 74% decrease in measles, a 43% decrease in tuberculosis, and the virtual elimination of measles outbreaks in Honduras.
  • With the support of the GAVI Alliance, Honduras became the second Central American country to include pneumococcus and rotavirus vaccines in its national immunization program.
  • Honduras was recognized in 2011 as one of three top “Malaria Champions of the Americas” for its progress in reducing occurrences of the disease.
  • Although more than 1.7 million children in developing countries die each year from preventable diseases like measles, diarrhea, polio, and pneumonia in Honduras, upwards of 98% of children are currently receiving those life-saving vaccinations, according to WHO-UNICEF estimates.

There has been much to see and do while on the ground in Honduras, including a delegation dinner with the Minister of Health, a trip to a rural health post, and a visit to an urban hospital.

We’ve heard from Honduran mothers who have gone to great lengths to get their children vaccinated, and visited with those children who are now getting the Shot@Life that they deserve, thanks to the success of the Honduran vaccination program.

We’ve also interacted with the community health workers, medical professionals, and representatives of the U.S. government and U.N. partners that make it possible for these children to survive.

Next week, be sure to check our site, shotatlife.org, for a post-trip update and photos from the field. We can’t wait to share this experience with you!

 
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