The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that the distribution of vaccines is the best medium to end the spread of the coronavirus in Africa.
It also said that it was providing technical support to countries in the African region to prepare for a successful COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
This was disclosed by Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, in a statement on Friday.
Dr Moeti said that the success of immunization campaigns in Africa was based on trust and acceptance of the vaccines.
“The success of any immunization campaign hinges on communities’ trust and acceptance,” she said.
“It is vital that we equip them with the right information, allay any fears and address concerns.
“Engaging communities increases the likelihood that they will take the lead on issues affecting them, eases access and use of services.
“It also facilitates comprehension and access to information, enables feedback and, critically for COVID-19 vaccination, helps in understanding vaccine safety and addressing possible adverse events following immunization.”
She called for community support in dealing with vaccination, stating that the most vulnerable were expected to be the first to receive when the vaccines became available.
“Initial groups will likely include frontline health workers, older people and adults with underlying conditions such as heart disease or diabetes,” she said.
“The initial COVID-19 vaccine supplies will be limited and will not be available to everyone right away.”
She also disclosed that the WHO would provide technical support for the rollout, and would procure vaccines for the continent through the COVAX facility.
“WHO and other immunisation partners are providing technical support to countries in the African region to prepare for a successful COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
“Through the COVAX Facility, WHO and partners are working with governments and vaccine manufacturers to procure COVID-19 vaccine doses to cover 20 per cent of the African population, initially focusing on those at the highest risk,” she said.
She said that African nations were only 12% prepared for community engagement regarding the vaccines, which was below the threshold approved by the WHO.
“A 10-point vaccine readiness assessment tool for the 47 countries in WHO African Region finds that progress by countries in bolstering community engagement is only at 12 per cent, far below the optimal score of at least 80 per cent.
“Community engagement – a crucial aspect for vaccine uptake – is among the least advanced categories in the assessment tool.
“Other key areas of the assessment tool are: planning and coordination, resource mobilisation, vaccine regulation, service delivery, training and supervision, monitoring and evaluation, vaccine logistics, vaccine safety and surveillance,” she said.
What you should know
- Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance and World Trade Organization candidate for Directo-General, disclosed that negotiations were going on with Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers to get vaccines early enough to developing countries, including Nigeria, from January next year.
- She added that the WHO had launched the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), alongside GAVI and other bodies to get vaccines delivered to developing nations when it became available, citing negotiations with vaccine manufacturers like Pfizer and AstraZeneca.
- In November, the G-20 nations announced a pledge to pay for vaccine distribution to developing nations that could not afford it. The leaders also announced a debt extension programme to developing nations during the weekend’s G-20 summit.