THE Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday that Caribbean countries continue to report increases in cases and deaths from the covid19 virus while several nations are having vaccination problems.
Dr Carissa Etienne, PAHO director, speaking at a webinar, said that in the past week more than 1.1 million cases and more than 24,000 deaths from covid19 were registered in the Americas.
The Caribbean is where the greatest incidences are especially in Barbados, she said, adding it is in that country where the highest number of cases and deaths has been registered with the Dominican Republic and Haiti following closely.
Dr Sylvain Aldhieri, PAHO Incident Director, said a large part of the Caribbean island countries had community protection in 2020 due to public health measures and travel restrictions, but in 2021, this has not been the case with the majority of countries reporting increases in cases and deaths this year.
This is exacerbated by low vaccination rates in some nations including Jamaica, Haiti, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines where vaccination rates do not exceed 20 percent of the population per country.
“In Jamaica there have been problems with the supply of vaccines and in Guatemala there is a problem with a lack of syringes,” Etienne said.
She urged Caribbean governments to train their health workers, where vaccination has become a political issue, and for them to explain to the population everything related to vaccines in order to build trust.
PAHO reported that in North and Central America, most countries have reported decreases in new cases and increases in certain places. Last week, PAHO launched a vaccination strategy for 40 percent of the total in the Americas before the end of 2021.
"It is encouraging that 26 countries have already vaccinated more than 40 percent of their population," Etienne said.
"PAHO is committed to meeting vaccination goals and accelerating deliveries of vaccines both purchased by Covax and donated by various countries."
In recent days, PAHO has delivered 1.3 million doses supplied by European countries while countries in the region have donated their own vaccine supplies to their Caribbean neighbours.
She highlighted that a door-to-door vaccination campaign in Bolivia has been very effective.
Dr Jarbas Barbosa, deputy director of PAHO, said only nine countries have more than 50 percent vaccination and only Chile, Uruguay and Canada have more than 70 percent of their population fully vaccinated.