The Rockefeller Foundation has been at the forefront of closing the inequity gap through covid-19 testing and investing. Ahead of the vaccine rollout in Africa, the foundation announced an initial of $34.95 to ensure equitable access to renewable energy in Africa.
Challenges to the rollout of Covid-19 Vaccines in African Countries
The covid-19 pandemic is a major global crisis and the collaborations will help combat the covid-19 crisis and unlock access to opportunities to build food systems across Africa. However, there have been bottlenecks that are limiting the rollout of vaccines on the continent.
Some of them include:
Struggling economic recovery
Covid-19 has led to a negative impact on the economy in many African countries. There has been heavy government spending in trying to support citizens during the pandemic even to a point of going into more debt. All these will lead to limitations in the rollout of the vaccines. These include limited access to global vaccine supplies, gradual and phased vaccine rollout plans for those lucky enough to get hold of vaccine doses, immense challenges posed by vaccine transport, storage and distribution deficiencies, and the resurgence of Covid‑19 transmission in parts of the continent. Some countries will fare better than others in accessing vaccines and distributing these to their citizens, but most people in Africa will not be inoculated by the end of 2021 and this will probably remain the case in 2022.
Relying on global initiatives
Affordable access to Covid-19 vaccines in Africa will to a large extent depend on the goodwill of the international community and international organizations especially those that are responsible for the global distribution of vaccines. This may take a while depending on their ability to deliver on time. Some of the African countries may not be able to access the vaccines on time which will be a great challenge in the rollout especially with the mutation of the virus.
Major vaccines distribution challenges
Countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa have relatively advanced logistics infrastructure and reasonably good international connectivity that will facilitate the import and distribution of Covid‑19 vaccines to support their ambitious vaccine rollout plans. However, healthcare systems in these countries are under pressure from the resurgence or second wave of Covid‑19 that will complicate matters for instance; the Kenyan government announced that the country could possibly be facing the third wave of the disease. Some of these African countries have enormous and dispersed populations that have poor health services and accessibility is quite difficult.
Vaccine rollout plans
Rollout plans of the vaccines will depend on when they start and how fast they will be carried out and how much available national finance and international connections to facilitate vaccine imports, the quality of vaccine storage and distribution facilities, and the stability and security of the medical supply and general logistics environment. Kenya has already received 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, however; the government stated it will first to the frontline workers especially the health care workers.
How can we address the challenges to the rollout of covid-19 vaccines in African countries?
African countries need to look inwards and develop an approach for local manufacturing which would lower the costs of vaccine importation and cold chain. For instance, Ethiopia has opted for a cold chain where they have gone into deals with China to get the vaccines. However, this can be avoided by local production and distribution.
Educating Africans on the need for vaccination could assist in addressing the challenges in the rollout. There has been fake news going rounds on different social media platforms from anti-vaccine individuals who state that the covid-19 vaccines are being used by the western countries to reduce the African population which gives a negative perception of the pharmaceutical industry. However, further research is needed on evidence-based interventions against vaccine hesitancy and its driving factors.
Global health inequalities in Africa also need to be addressed so as to assist in an easier rollout of the vaccines. Most of the places in Africa especially rural areas do not have access to quality health care. This has been a great challenge especially during the pandemic and should be looked into so that all people including the poor and marginalized can access the vaccine and help to stop the spread of covid-19.