Guest Blog Post from our friends at GFAN Africa:
On Thursday 15 April, GFAN Africa, EANNASO and PATAM organized a webinar titled Combating COVID-19: The Innovating Responses. The webinar brought together civil society, communities, the UN and the Global Fund for conversations on the COVID-19 response. The webinar was one of a series on the COVID-19 response.
The purpose of the webinar was to discuss innovations that different partners, institutions and agencies have instituted to respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and to emphasize measures that should be taken to address new emerging bottlenecks that threaten to derail efforts towards effectively managing COVID-19. There was a discussion on how communities have been impacted by the current innovations.
In his remarks, Dr Maxwell Rupfutse from WHO noted that the COVID-19 vaccine is an additional tool to defeat the disease. He added that the ACT – A is working towards the production, delivery and administration of 2 billion doses by the end of 2021. He noted that there are inequalities in the delivery of the vaccine.
Prof Joachim Osur from AMREF Health Africa in his remarks noted that in the vaccine administration, there is an emerging problem of vaccine hesitancy because some communities do not have information about the vaccine, others have wrong information while others have information but are doubting the science of the vaccine and raising safety concerns. Vaccines may expire due to too slow uptake. This presents an addition to the definition of hard to reach populations.
From the Global Fund, Gilles Cesari presented the partnership’s COVID-19 response mechanism and outlined the resources available at the Global Fund for the COVID-19 response as well as HIV, TB and malaria adaptation programmes. He emphasized the need for community engagement and community monitoring and led initiatives. A detailed technical guidance document is available at the Global Fund.
“Amid COVID-19, other life threatening diseases persist. Yet support was moved from diseases such as HIV, TB and Malaria to COVID-19 without engaging communities”. Noted Carol Kachenga from CITAM Plus. She emphasized the need for community engagement and community friendly messaging and the engagement of CHVs for awareness raising and contact tracing. She noted that the use of technology in the COVID-19 response is good and emphasized that communication tools should be affordable.
Despite the downward trend in COVID-19 cases being reported in the East Africa region, there is need for sustained efforts to end the disease. There should be strong advocacy, communication and social mobilization as well as community engagement to pass accurate messages to increase the uptake of the vaccine.
The next of these webinar series will be in May 2021 on a date to be confirmed.