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South Africa has been badly hit by coronavirus. At the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria, health workers take oxygen tanks into a temporary ward for Covid patients. Courtesy/ AFP


WHO roots for training of African health workers to boost COVID-19 vaccine roll-out

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb – A seamless roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine in Africa hinges on improving the knowledge of the continent’s frontline health care workers in critical areas like storage, supply chains management and effective communication to the public, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.

Ambrose Talisuna, emergency preparedness programme manager at WHO Regional Office for Africa said that a critical mass of trained healthcare workers is key to boost COVID-19 vaccine preparedness and uptake in the continent.

“There is a need to train and prepare African healthcare workers to administer the COVID-19 vaccine effectively,” Talisuna said at a virtual briefing in Nairobi.

“We need to reach out to policymakers and vaccine managers at national and sub-national levels and improve their capacity to conduct mass immunization against the virus,” he added.

Talisuna said that WHO has supported the training of African healthcare workers on key areas of vaccine administration including cold storage, logistics and detection of side effects.

He said that a partnership between WHO and international online healthcare training initiative, Project ECHO that was launched on Wednesday, is expected to revolutionize capacity building aimed at facilitating a seamless administration of COVID-19 vaccine in Africa.

According to Talisuna, the new partnership aims to bridge the knowledge and expertise gap that could undermine mass immunization against coronavirus in Africa.

“We will leverage on technology and innovation to train vaccinators, facilitate peer learning and sharing of knowledge across borders to address misinformation that might hinder vaccine acceptance,” said Talisuna.

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He said that African countries have gradually improved their COVID-19 vaccine readiness amid the quest to contain the pandemic and return to normalcy.

“The capacity to deliver vaccines among African countries is up to task based on the ongoing assessment on critical areas like storage,” said Talisuna adding that more than 30 African countries have submitted their vaccine readiness plans.

Bruce Struminger, senior associate director and Africa Project leader at Project ECHO said that training and mentorship tailor-made for the frontline healthcare workers is key to facilitate a smooth roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine in the continent.


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