The Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative, a $1.5 billion partnership between the MasterCard Foundation and the Africa CDC, is accelerating vaccination across the African continent.
Considerable progress has been recorded across the four focus areas; purchase of vaccines for more than 65 million people, deployment of the vaccines across the continent, the development of a workforce that will manufacture vaccines in Africa and strengthening of the capacity of the Africa CDC.
So far, three countries have surpassed the 70% vaccination target; Seychelles (81.3%), Mauritius (76.6%0 and Rwanda (76.5%). Also, 10 countries have attained a target of between 40% and 70% including Comoros, Lesotho, Liberia, Mozambique, Botswana, Cape Verde, Tunisia, Morocco, and Sao Tome and Principe.
In total, about 21.2% percent of the continent’s population is fully vaccinated, hence, to drive an increase in COVID-19 uptake, the in-country implementation took place in Kenya, Lesotho, Namibia, Nigeria, and Rwanda.
The strategy behind the country implementation launch is to synergize the efforts of the Government, Africa CDC, and other implementing partners in increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake. The implementation campaign will focus on Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE), vaccine capacity, logistics, and vaccine surveillance to enable these countries to reach their COVID-19 vaccination target.
The country implementation launch started in Kenya on July 22nd. The vaccination drive comes when the country is experiencing the 6th wave of COVID-19 infection, with only 32% of the adult population fully vaccinated.
In this support, the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative and the Ministry of Health have planned a target of more than 8,000 outreaches while strengthening 672 COVID-19 vaccination centers and vaccinating more than 1m within 12 months in selected districts.
This was followed by the implementation launch in Namibia on August 3, spearheaded by the country’s Ministry of Health targeting 27 new COVID-19 vaccination centers while strengthening 70 vaccination centers and vaccinating more than 500,000 people within 12 months in selected sites.
Nigeria and Rwanda had their implementation launches in their respective countries on August 8, 2022. In Rwanda the government has planned an integrated mass vaccination for children aged between 5 and 11 years old, also the administration of second booster doses to people aged 60 years and above.
Through the initiative, the Africa CDC and the Ministry of Health are targeting to reach more than 700,000 citizens, while strengthening the country’s cold chain capacity and bolstering 21 new COVID-19 vaccination centers in the Northern, Southern, and Western parts of the country to ensure vaccine accessibility and equity.
Lesotho was the last port of call in the month of August with the launch taking place on August 1oth. It came at a time when the country has only 55% of the adult population fully vaccinated. The initiative and the Ministry of Health of Lesotho are aiming to strengthen 22 COVID-19 vaccination centers with a 12-month target to vaccinate more than 270,000 people.
In a bid to drive vaccine uptake in Africa, youth engagement has been emphasized as one of the instruments in achieving the 70% vaccination target. The AU Bingwa, an initiative that seeks to establish a network of COVID-19 vaccination youth champions across the continent with the aim to increase the vaccination rate across Africa to 70% before 2023. It is a strategy to get Africa’s young population to mobilise their peers, families, and communities to get vaccinated against the pandemic.
At a workshop in Lagos, Nigeria selected influencers across different platforms calling themselves ‘Bingwa’ a Kiswahili word that means ‘Champion’ advised people on the essence of the vaccines.
Among them was the Nigerian music star Chike Ezekpeazu Osebuka. Also, in collaboration with Trace TV, a youth-focused television network, there would be several campaigns aimed at engaging the creative community in creating more awareness content to promote COVID-19 vaccination across the continent.