There has been a recent focus on challenges African countries will encounter during the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, including the lack of infrastructure needed to maintain cold chains, inadequate vaccine supplies, growing vaccine hesitancy and the lack of funding.
However, rather than focusing solely on challenges, we argue African countries should recognize and harness assets that could accelerate the vaccine roll-out and enhance the COVID-19 prevention package. This view is based on experiences in Siaya, where the team implemented an integrated intervention leveraging the community health strategy, youth and digital technology to maximize COVID-19 prevention and optimize the case management of patients with COVID-19 in communities and health facilities.
Summary of findings:
Countries in sub-Saharan Africa have faced challenges in COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, including the lack of infrastructure needed to maintain cold chains, inadequate vaccine supplies, growing vaccine hesitancy and the lack of funding.
The team’s experience implementing an integrated intervention leveraging the community health strategy, youth, and digital technology to maximize COVID-19 prevention and optimize COVID-19 case management in communities and health facilities demonstrated key assets that are critical to strengthening the COVID-19 response and vaccine rollout in Africa, namely, (1) community-based healthcare (CBHC) with community health workers taking the lead; (2) youth engagement: in our intervention in Siaya, we included youth to promote digitizing household visits for rapid The ease in reaching health services or health facilities in terms of location, time, and ease of approach. to household-level data; and (3) social capital: in rural areas of Africa like Siaya, social capital represents a rich resource. As a result of actively engaging with communities, we observed high adherence with non-pharmaceutical interventions.
As vaccines become more available in Africa through local production and platforms such as COVAX, let us not forget assets present in Africa that can accelerate the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, enhancing the prevention package: CBHC, youth and social capital.