Africa is at 30% Covid-19 vaccination rate

Principal Secretary (PS) responsible for Administration in the Ministry of Health, Bestone Chisamile, has disclosed that the African continent has managed to vaccinate only 30 percent of its total population against Covid-19.

Chisamile made the revelation in Lilongwe on Wednesday when he opened a three-day training workshop on Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) involving Southern and Eastern African Regions.

The training focused on reflecting on the fight against Covid-19 pandemic across Africa.

Kebila–Main purpose of the refresher training is to fight and control the diseases

Chisamile said the meeting is essential since African countries have been struggling to find innovative ideas on how to deal with outbreaks such as the Covid-19.

“The ministry is very grateful to Africa Center for Disease Control for providing leadership and coordination for continent-wide response by African Union Member States since the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic. Working with the World Health Organization WHO and other partners, the RCCE working group and its technical arms, African countries are slowly implementing several activities to support communication by Member States,” said the PS.

He said through sharing of experiences and knowledge among African countries on public health challenges, the continent can address some of the common challenges being faced in the health sector.

Chisamile stated that the refresher training will enhance the capacity in strategic communication planning, media approach and community Engagement and Social media as well as rumour management and their effect on health systems.

Participants to the training workshop pose for a photo

“We all know how improvement in technology through social media and mobile health has brought in infodemics, misinformation and disinformation which has given an uphill task to RCCE experts to effectively communicate to increase acceptance of Covid-19 vaccination, Africa CDC, UNIAIDS together with RCCE expert in the region have worked tirelessly to ensure people have correct and up to date health information to promote the adoption of health lifestyles and effective utilization of health services such HIV and AIDS, reproductive health services amidst the Covid-19 pandemic,” he narrated.

But the PS was quick to concede that misinformation and low vaccine acceptance continue to slowdown vaccination campaigns in several communities across Africa.

In his remarks, Representative for Africa Union and Africa Centre for Disease Control, Peter Kebila, said the main purpose of the refresher training was to fight and control the diseases with good communication to people across two regions.

Kebila said this will help to promote greater involvement of the communities in the regions, which would, in turn, help to control and prevent diseases as well as fighting the pandemic at a community level.

Speaking at the same event, Chairperson for RCCE-CoPA steering Committee, Mavuto Thomas, said the responsibilities of the public health risk communication community of practice for Africa (PH-RCCE-CoPA) is to provide technical support and recommendations on PH-RCCE to governments in Africa on preparation and implementation of their PH-RCCE countries’ workplans and strategies.

Thomas said this will encourage and foster broad partnership among members to expand the coverage and delivery of key messages in order to increase effectiveness of community engagement, rumours management as well as social science for PH-RCCE in Africa.

“The Covid-19 pandemic and other emerging diseases has shown us the power of collaboration efforts in the fight against these diseases and other public threats as we are building back better from the Covid-19 we believe believe Africa has the capacity to solve its own challenges if we improve on our collaboration and information sharing,” he said.

“We may have boundaries as counties but the diseases knowns no boundaries hence the need to promote the IHR approach through the one health platform, no one is safe until everyone else is safe,” he added.

PH-RCCE-CoPA aims to promote best practices, continuous learning and knowledge exchange among African countries to build capacity and improve the practice of public health risk communication and community engagement in Africa.

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