Andes Mountain Border Areas Launch Vaccination Campaign

Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay border cities partner on vaccinations
border towns at the foot of the andes mountains
South America (Vax Before Travel)

Brazil and Paraguay announced they have launched a vaccination campaign to increase immunities against measles, yellow fever and other vaccine-preventable diseases in the border cities of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

The municipality of Ponta Porã, in the Mato Grosso do Sul state, was the launch site of the World Health Organization (WHO) multi-country vaccination campaign.

Brazil’s Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta's announcement on September 16, 2019, includes the issue of border immunization among the priorities of cooperation between Mercosur and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

“What we are launching here, in Ponta Porã, is a symbolic act that represents the entire national border area. We can greatly increase these alliances of Brazil with its neighboring countries, guaranteeing protection for all," said Mandetta.

Additionally, vaccination activities are also scheduled in the Brazilian border towns of Ponta Porã, Dionísio Cerqueira, Barra do Quaraí, Foz do Iguaçu and Barracão. 

Furthermore, neighboring countries are starting immunization campaigns in Bernardo de Irigoyen and Puerto Iguazú, Argentina; in Pedro Juan Caballero and Ciudad del Este, Paraguay; and in Bella Union, Uruguay.

Socorro Gross, PAHO/WHO Representative in Brazil, said vaccination is the most cost-effective health intervention, but it requires the commitment of politicians, mothers, fathers, health professionals, and all people. 

“Today, we live in a complex world where no one thought we would have child deaths from measles in Europe and in developed countries. We seem to have lost that value of vaccination for our lives.” 

“At PAHO, we have joined the efforts of Brazil, Paraguay, other countries and Mercosur in the Region of the Americas to rescue the value of vaccination.”

The strategy announced by the Paraguayan Minister of Public Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Julio Daniel Mazzoleni Insfrán, “Health and disease has no nationality. Solidarity and effort don’t, either. These are the same people.” 

“Many families have members of both nationalities. We are going to roll up our sleeves and start vaccinating,” said the minister.

According to the PAHO/WHO representative in Paraguay, Dr. Luis Roberto Escotto, risk factors are shared at the borders, along with social, economic and cultural exchange. 

“But health protection factors are also shared, such as this event. We congratulate the Mercosur member states for this initiative that seeks to integrate efforts to close the gaps in vaccine coverage in border areas and thus reduce the risk of diseases such as measles and yellow fever."

Three countries in the Americas have confirmed cases of yellow fever in 2019: Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru. 

PAHO has provided broad support to the Brazilian government and Brazilian states to respond to yellow fever outbreaks that have affected the country in recent years.

Support actions included the sending of vaccines, training, contracting of vaccinators, control of disease-carrying mosquitoes, the establishment of situation rooms for data analysis, help with the purchase of syringes, and development of a fractional dose vaccination strategy used in the states of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in 2018.

To combat measles, PAHO is helping Brazil in the purchase of 18.7 million vaccines and, together with the Ministry of Health, is supporting the state of São Paulo in strengthening its epidemiological and laboratory surveillance system.

Measles has been reported in 14 PAHO countries, with the largest case numbers in Brazil and Venezuela. Cases have also been reported in Argentina, Bahamas, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, México, Perú, Saint Lucia, and Uruguay.

In 2018, the PAHO helped the Brazilian federal government with the supply of syringes, the purchase of materials to maintain the proper temperature of vaccines, hiring professionals, renting vehicles to transport health equipment, and planning actions for immunization. It has sent experts to support national and local authorities in the state of Roraima. 

In Paraguay, PAHO has supported the purchase of all the vaccines in the national immunization program through its Revolving Fund for vaccines. It also supported strengthening epidemiologic surveillance, training of personnel including rapid response teams, and purchases of reagents, as well as case investigation and classification.

The PAHO also supported vaccination, surveillance, information and education, and rapid response and mobilization in Amazonas state in 2018.

International Vaccine news published by Vax-Before-Travel

Article by
Dani Reiter