AFRICA – The European Union (EU) has partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to boost COVID-19 vaccination campaigns and increase vaccine uptake in Africa over a period of 18 months.

The partnership comes at a time when African countries are striving to expand the COVID-19 vaccination coverage since only 15% of the population is fully vaccinated so far.

The Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) has donated US$18 million to WHO in support of operational and technical activities related to the vaccine rollout.

WHO and partner organizations have deployed more than 60 experts on the ground to form part of country health expert teams working to strengthen coordination, logistical and financial planning.

The funds will also be used to build the capacity of health workers to plan, coordinate and deploy the vaccines along with monitoring and documenting the results of the rollout as well as adequately investigate and report any adverse events following immunization.

The EU funding covers 15 African countries namely Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan Republic, and Sudan.

It is part of the European Union’s humanitarian initiative for COVID-19 vaccination in Africa which aims to ensure increased access especially for the most vulnerable as well as those living in hard-to-reach, remote and conflict-affected areas,” reports the European Commission.

The funding is also part of the numerous contributions from Team Europe to the COVID-19 response through COVAX Facility to the fight against the pandemic around the world specifically in Africa.

Director General for ECHO Paraskevi Michou assured that the EU supports local drug manufacturing, the strengthening of research, analysis and sequencing capacities as well as the improvement of health systems at regional and national levels in Africa.

The EU has provided a total of US$111 million to support the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in Africa to help ensure equitable access to vaccines for vulnerable people,” he maintained.

The vaccination campaigns prioritize vulnerable and high-risk populations such as health workers, older people, those with co-morbidities together with those living in conflict-affected and humanitarian contexts like in refugee camps.

Vaccination is the best protection against the adverse impacts of COVID-19 while also preventing new variants from emerging and threatening not only Africa but the world.

it is also crucial to step up collaborative efforts to address other vaccine-preventable disease as well as bolster health systems to provide accessible, quality and affordable care.

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