While African countries have begun receiving their first doses of vaccines, efforts to train local clinicians and frontline responders to inoculate populations are underway across the continent. Project HOPE has launched an online training targeting over 20 African countries to ensure local vaccinators are prepared and ready to meet the demands of their roles as COVID-19 vaccines become available.
Bethesda, MD (March 3, 2021) – While African countries have begun receiving their first doses of vaccines, efforts to train local clinicians and frontline responders to inoculate populations are underway across the continent. Project HOPE has launched an online training targeting over 20 African countries to ensure local vaccinators are prepared and ready to meet the demands of their roles as COVID-19 vaccines become available. More than 140 participants from South Africa and Ethiopia already attended the first training on Friday, February 26.
"With the COVID-19 virus continuing to spread across African countries, the clock is ticking," says Rabih Torbay, President and CEO of Project HOPE. "As vaccines become available, local vaccinators are racing against time to immunize as many people as possible. With these trainings, health care workers are equipped with adequate knowledge and skills to respond rapidly and safely."
The training, developed in partnership with Brown University's Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies, follows the World Health Organization's guidelines and supports the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention's (Africa CDC) COVID-19 deployment and vaccination strategy. The training includes a blend of online learning modules, materials for in-person trainings, and direct support to health facilities. Participants learn about proper vaccine storage, preparation, and administration. They are also trained on how to respond to questions and concerns raised by local populations. The training is developed in English and will be soon translated to French, Arabic, and Portuguese to target further participants across the continent.
The training provides critical knowledge about different vaccines, including those recently obtained through a partnership between Africa CDC and MTN, Africa's leading mobile network. Seven million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for health workers across the continent were secured through this partnership.
"Acquiring supplies is simply not enough -- we need to ensure that we continue to develop the capacity of our public health workforce in order to fight the ongoing pandemic in Africa," states Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC. "This partnership is an example of how to support those efforts, particularly at this critical time as we prepare to deploy vaccines across the continent."
This week, Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire have begun their vaccination campaign after receiving their first doses through COVAX. At least eight African countries have received COVID-19 vaccines through the United Nations-led mechanism. More vaccine shipments are expected, as the COVAX initiative aims to start shipping about 90 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa over the next few weeks. However, this will only be enough to immunize 3 percent of the African population in the first half of 2021. This low coverage underscores the critical need to improve access to vaccines for countries in Africa in order to contain the spread of the virus and ensure rapid immunization of populations across the continent.
With the emergence of more contagious variants in Africa, a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases could dangerously overwhelm responders and health systems. The longer African countries must wait to receive their vaccine supplies, the more strain it puts on the health care workforce and infrastructure.
"The rollout of vaccination campaigns in several African countries is a first step in the fight against COVID-19. Yet, timeliness is critical when responding to a pandemic," says Torbay. "Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire began their vaccination campaign 84 days after the U.K. became the first country to vaccinate its residents."
Facts and Figures
- The African Union has secured 670 million vaccine doses for the continent, which will be distributed in 2021 and 2022 as countries secure adequate financing.
- COVAX aims to provide 600 million doses to Africa to vaccinate 20 percent of the continent's population this year. Africa has about 1.3 billion people.
- Deaths from COVID-19 across Africa surged by 40 percent in January 2021.
In 2020, Project HOPE supported the Africa CDC by delivering a "COVID-19 Preparedness and Response" training to health care workers and frontline responders. The training, available in English, French, Arabic, and Portuguese, was made available in nearly 30 African countries.
For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:
Hajer Naili, Media Relations Manager, HNaili@ProjectHOPE.org, +1 917 889 5982