Guyana, Brazil partner in multi-vaccination campaign
A demonstration of the vaccination process
A demonstration of the vaccination process

By Cassandra Khan
IN an effort to boost vaccination numbers in Lethem and Bonfim and maintain control of vaccine-preventable diseases, Guyana and Brazil have joined forces.

The two countries are participating in a joint multi-vaccination campaign which targets people of all age groups residing in the two towns. All vaccines from the national vaccination calendar and campaign vaccines will be available.

The campaign, “D” Day, was launched on Saturday in Bonfim, Brazil, and saw senior health officials from the two countries in attendance.

Guyana’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Narine Singh, who represented Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony, said that Guyana and Brazil, as neighbours, should treat each other well, given that there are no barriers regarding where an outbreak can occur.

“An outbreak in any of our neighbouring villages or towns can spread and affect both sides. So, we have to protect ourselves and our neighbours,” the CMO said.

He related that the vaccination programme in Guyana is one of the flagship programmes and that every year, there is a 95 to 98 per cent coverage in antigens, especially in the under-five age group. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a drop in immunisation rates.

“With COVID on its way out, we can use this opportunity to get back our high rates and also to help you come up with us,” he told his Brazilian counterparts during the launch.

The CMO noted that the relationship between Lethem and Bonfim does not stop there. He recalled that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Brazil gave Guyana ventilators and other items that were needed at the time.

“We are grateful to you for your help and we hope this collaboration gets stronger,” he said.

Additionally, Dr Singh said that local health officials are currently working with the University of São Paulo to address Guyana’s severe shortage of nursing staff.

Brazil is said to have one of the strongest surveillance systems in Latin America, and according to the CMO, Guyana will turn to its neighbour for support as it tries to strengthen its local system.

Meanwhile, Technical Consultant of Foreign Affairs, Fernanda Manara, who represented the Brazilian health minister, thanked those who are working hard to ensure the success of the campaign.

She related that in May 2022, the Brazilian government and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), established the Border Vaccination Strategy for 2022. This plan of action was designed to tackle issues in border regions.

The goal, she said, is to improve the coverage rates on the Brazilian borders and to avoid the reintroduction of vaccine-preventable diseases. The strategy is being deployed in 14 stages.

She reiterated that collaboration between the two countries is important.

Consul General of Guyana in Boa Vista, Brazil, Rodger King, in his comments said that the relationship between Guyana and Brazil is at the “highest” it has ever been.

After reminding that vaccination is what got both countries through the pandemic, he said that Guyana is looking forward to continuous collaboration in health and other areas.

“Our two governments are collaborating at levels that we have never seen before in the economic development of both countries and more so, the economic development of Guyana and Roraima, which have a common border. The Government of Guyana has even lobbied CARICOM for Roraima to be like a brother or sister to CARICOM in economic development,” King noted.

He said that there is a lot of hope and vision being put into the initiative for both countries and their people to be healthier and more educated.

The Vice Mayor of Bonfim, Mario Niacio, said that they understand that healthcare has no borders and with climate change, they also have to keep an eye on the situations that can arise.

“We will continue this collaboration with our brothers in Guyana, seeing that we have good results with our collaboration against COVID-19,” he said.

Niacio thanked Guyana for the exchange of knowledge and teamwork and related that the doors are open for more collaboration.

Maternal and Child Health Officer at the Ministry of Health in Guyana, Dr Oneka Scott, said that Bonfim and Lethem are considered to be one region and it is in their best interest to protect the residents against vaccine-preventable diseases.

She related that according to the 2021 statistics, there was an 84 per cent coverage in Lethem and a 9.1 per cent coverage in Bonfim for the antigen BCG. She said that the campaign is necessary, due to the low rate of coverage.

The campaign was launched to strengthen vaccination policies in national and international border regions and to offer vaccination services with a view to maintaining control of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Bonfim and Lethem are seen as the participating twin cities.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All our printed editions are available online
Subscribe to the Guyana Chronicle.
Sign up to receive news and updates.
We respect your privacy.