The WHO reported in June 2023 that an EU-funded and WHO-implemented project from 2022 helped health systems become more resilient, arming them against epidemics of vaccine-preventable diseases. The project prioritises the most vulnerable communities and people.  

WHO contrasts the start of 2022 with the current COVID-19 vaccination status on the African continent. The participating countries are Burundi, Cameroon. The Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, the South Sudan Republic, Sudan, and Tanzania. In these countries at the start of 2022, the COVID-19 vaccination rate was below 5% on average. This is now “closing in on 30%”, which is the average for the continent.  

“34 million people have received the two-dose vaccinations – more than 1 in 4 people across the population of all countries.”  
Trained health workers 

In the statement from WHO health workers are recognised as “crucially important” in the success of the programme. Trained by WHO, they have been administering vaccines in urban hubs, villages, refugee and displacement camps, workplaces, and public spaces.  

“The number of WHO-trained health workers rose from about 130,000 in 2022, to almost 2 million by May 2023. Trained health workers are a precious and resilient asset for national governments and communities, as they are prepared and ready to provide an effective response to any future epidemics.” 
Progress in specific regions  

WHO recognises the specific progress in the following areas: 

  • Chad, Guinea, Niger, Sudan, South Sudan, and Nigeria reached close to 40% vaccination rates. 
  • The Central African Republic, Mozambique, and Somalia surpassed the 40% rate.  
  • Liberia has shown the “most progress” with eight out of ten people now vaccinated.  

Vaccination efforts also reached almost 12 million refugees, internally displaced persons, and migrants across eleven countries, with four in ten receiving a full primary series and more than half receiving at least one dose. Around 13 million people in these vulnerable groups were were targeted by awareness campaigns delivered by local health workers in their own languages and in their settings.  

Looking ahead 

WHO states that thanks to “significant knowledge transfer, training, and fieldwork”, national vaccination and immunisation programmes have been strengthened “in the long run”.  

“Countries are now more resilient against COVID-19 and ready to tackle other vaccine-preventable diseases and health emergencies.” 

Has your area benefitted from the programme? Do you think enough has been done to better prepare these countries for future vaccine-preventable threats? 

Make sure you subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get updates like this delivered to your inbox!