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The Rockefeller Foundation launches the Vaccination Action Network to strengthen health systems and scale up vaccinations against Covid-19 in sub-Saharan Africa

Amref Health Africa Selected as Implementing Partner to Provide Technical Assistance to New Peer-to-Peer Learning Network

Nairobi, Kenya, August 2, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Rockefeller Foundation announces the launch of the Vaccination Action Network (VAN), a US$7.4 million locally-led, peer-to-peer learning initiative designed to engage public health decision makers across sub-Saharan Africa and strengthen their efforts to strengthen health systems while scaling up demand strategies for Covid-19 vaccines. Sabin Vaccine Institute and Dalberg are the secretariat of the network, while Amref Health Africa (Amref) plays a key role in guiding and administering sub-grants to local organizations in participating countries so that they can implement the strategies of demand generation for vaccines discussed in the learning sessions.

The network already links Ministry of Health officials, implementing partners and other key actors across Kenya, Malawi, Tanzaniaand Uganda through activities designed to take place within and between countries (intra- and transnational), so that participants can share lessons learned and best practices to stimulate local demand for Covid-19 vaccines. Expansion plans to other countries in the region are also underway.

“The Vaccination Action Network’s community-based approach brings together our counterparts from across the region and the country. This collaboration is key to finding and implementing the right vaccination approach,” said Dr Diana Atwine, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Uganda. In a recent VAN learning session focused on Wakiso District, Dr Mathias Lugoloobi, District Health Officer of Uganda Wakiso District Center echoed this sentiment, saying that “for strategies to succeed, only the community must have the final say.”

While more than 60% of people have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 worldwide, only 20% of people in Africa received full doses. Inconsistent and inequitable access to supplies initially hampered immunization campaigns on the continent. However, adoption is now primarily impacted by complex delivery scenarios, limited access to vaccination centers, and other ongoing demand barriers, such as vaccine hesitancy and diminished concerns about infection. to Covid-19.

VAN’s goal is to help decision-makers understand the drivers of vaccination and support initiatives that will increase uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine, while strengthening routine vaccination so that health systems are better equipped. to respond to the next pandemic. This reflects the Rockefeller Foundation’s regional commitment to supporting place-based solutions, empowering community representatives, and building more resilient health systems.

“The Vaccination Action Network is helping to establish new channels of communication that will continually enhance regional learnings, solutions and leadership,” said William Asiko, Vice President of the Rockefeller Foundation Africa Regional Office. “By making these discussions country-led, we want to create a space where those directly involved in immunization campaigns can voice what’s working, what’s not working, and what needs to change to improve uptake rates. vaccination.”

Peer-to-peer learning is an important tool for public servants trying to meet these challenges. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, this kind of intra- and inter-country coordination has helped the continent to scale up genomic sequencing and secure essential tools, including personal protective equipment and diagnostic tests.

“By encouraging leaders to come together, the Vaccination Action Network is opening up new dialogues that focus on regional solutions to local challenges,” said Githinji GitahiCEO of Amref Group. “This is critical to addressing vaccine equity issues, which are tied to national and regional contexts, but also provides countries with an opportunity for longer-term coordination on other priorities.”

VAN will organize monthly intra-country sessions and several cross-country discussions before the end of the calendar year, with the aim of turning lessons learned from these sessions into actionable solutions. To facilitate this, VAN supports Amref through a 5 million US dollars grant to design and implement tailored strategies that better reflect local needs and address demand barriers for increased vaccine use.

Before the launch, VAN organized two transnational discussions and five intra-national discussions, which have already produced results. Following a VAN session in May focused on improving the understanding and use of vaccines, the Institute of Infectious Diseases (IDI) at Makerere University of Kampala, Uganda is now working to train “vaccination champions” in Wakiso district. The goal is for champions to connect with communities about the benefits of vaccines, address their questions and concerns, and ultimately encourage vaccination through community strategies that have proven effective in past outbreak control settings. Uganda.

“One of our biggest lessons from the VAN conversation was that we needed to do more to engage communities with accurate and accessible information about Covid-19 vaccines, building on lessons learned from other health issues such than HIV and Ebola,” said Mohammed Lamorde, Head of Global Health Security at IDI. “That’s why our program focuses on working with trusted community members and leaders to equip them with the tools they need to encourage greater use of vaccines within their communities.”

VAN represents the first major investment by the Global Vaccination Initiative (GVI) to overcome low demand for vaccines in Africa. Launched in April 2022GVI is the Rockefeller Foundation US$55 million effort to support country-led efforts to fully vaccinate 90% of most-at-risk populations Africa, Asia, Latin Americaand the Caribbean over the next two years.

About the Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation is a pioneering philanthropy founded on collaborative partnerships at the frontiers of science, technology and innovation to enable individuals, families and communities to flourish. We work to promote the well-being of humanity and make opportunity universal. Our goal is to develop renewable energies for all, to stimulate economic mobility and to ensure equitable access to healthy and nutritious food. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at rockefellerfoundation.org and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.

Amref Health Africa, headquartered in Kenyais the biggest Africainternational non-governmental organization (INGO). With a focus on increasing sustainable access to health, Amref runs programs in more than 35 countries in Africa, with lessons learned over 60 years of engagement with governments, communities and partners. Amref Health Africa also engages in program development, fundraising, partnership, advocacy, monitoring and evaluation, and has offices in Europe and North America as well as subsidiaries: Amref Flying Doctors, Amref Companies and the Amref International University.

About Dalberg

Dalberg is a leading social impact advisory group that brings together strategy advice, design thinking, big data analytics, and research to address complex social and environmental challenges. He works collaboratively with communities, institutions, governments and businesses to develop solutions that create impact at scale. The Dalberg Group is made up of six companies: Dalberg Advisors, Dalberg Data Insights, Dalberg Design, Dalberg Implement, Dalberg Media and Dalberg Research, and a non-profit organization, Dalberg Catalyst. For more information, visit www.dalberg.com.

About the Sabin Vaccine Institute

The Sabin Vaccine Institute is a leading advocate for expanding vaccine access and adoption globally, advancing vaccine research and development, and amplifying vaccine knowledge and innovation. Unlocking the potential of vaccines through partnership, Sabin has built a strong ecosystem of funders, innovators, implementers, practitioners, policy makers and public actors to advance its vision of a future without preventable diseases. As a non-profit organization with more than two decades of experience, Sabin is committed to finding solutions that last and extending the full benefits of vaccines to all people, no matter who they are or where they live. . At Sabin, we believe in the power of vaccines to change the world. For more information, visit www.sabin.org and follow us on Twitter, @SabinVaccine.

SOURCEThe Rockefeller Foundation