Action Against Hunger has been at the frontline providing life-saving prevention and treatment for decades. Covid-19 is no different. Since the pandemic first started, we’ve been delivering PPE and other resources to those in need, spreading awareness about the virus and teaming up with local governments to combat the pandemic. When health facilities became overwhelmed, we ramped up our support even further to get quarantine facilities and treatment hospitals up and running.
The next step is stopping the spread of the virus in its tracks through vaccines. Today, less than 10% of people in Africa are fully vaccinated. We want to change that. As a trusted healthcare provider, we’re working hard to get vaccines to those in need in Somalia, South Sudan, Madagascar and Zimbabwe.
Somalia is a challenging place to deliver health services. 80% of the country faces drought after four years of consecutive dry seasons. As wells have dried up, high temperatures have pushed people to move toward city centres – straining what resources remain. The pressure on urban healthcare services, combined with the ongoing presence of armed militia groups throughout the country, makes a coordinated effort to combat the pandemic a challenge.
Despite these obstacles, we’re meeting the task of rolling out Covid-19 vaccines head on. Our teams are working hard to combat misinformation by engaging communities in dialogue around the benefits of getting vaccinated. Our community health workers, have been able to reach over 390,000 people with information about the benefits of the vaccine.
Our second challenge in Somalia is getting people vaccinated. We set out with the goal of vaccinating 24,000 people across our 42 vaccination sites. We also deployed medical teams to ensure those unable to reach the sites were still getting the protection they needed. Since January 2021, we have surpassed our goal and now have vaccinated over 38,000 people.
“I hope that this virus will one day be eradicated from our country and the whole world,” explains Rahma Salad in Somalia. “Enabling us to live without fear of Covid-19.”
In the Paguir region of Fangak County, South Sudan, severe flooding has lasted for years. Some remote villages appear permanently waterlogged, making access to healthcare a challenge. This is where we have focused our efforts. After setting up vaccination sites in three villages, we began our awareness raising campaign. Initially, the vaccines were met with scepticism – but with the team’s continued efforts, opinions quickly changed.
Community leaders then began to get the vaccine. “I want to be the example for the community,” says Kueth Gach upon arrival to receive his vaccine. Soon, many others followed. By the time we got our shipment of vaccines, long lines had formed. Some sold a portion of what little they owned to buy passage onto a boat to one of the vaccination sites.
Currently, our teams are eagerly waiting and hoping for further vaccine deliveries. Demand remains high.
Madagascar and Zimbabwe
Action Against Hunger has been able to vaccinate tens of thousands of people in Somalia and South Sudan. We’re also working on the the Covid-19 vaccination campaign in Madagascar. We’re supporting the healthcare system in the country while they prepare for the rollout so they can continue to provide other forms of care, distributing the vaccine and launching an awareness raising campaign about the benefits of vaccination.
In Zimbabwe, we’re raising awareness about the vaccine to support uptake, especially amongst vulnerable groups. The project will complement and bolster countrywide activities of the Ministry of Health and UNICEF by increasing healthcare workers’ about vaccines. It will also ensure partners, health workers and outreach staff have reliable information to give to patients.
As well as spreading vital information about the vaccine, our teams will also continue to share messages about preventative measures to help keep communities safe.