In January 2023 Gavi announced a delivery of vehicles and technological goods to the Government of Sierra Leone to support its COVID-19 vaccine deployment. The package, worth over $2.8 million, was delivered by the COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Partnership (CoVDP), a joint venture by Gavi, UNICEF, and WHO.
Items were handed to Dr Austin Demby, Minister of Health and Sanitation, in Freetown. The delivery included “two pick up vehicles, 250 motorbikes, six computers and accessories, and 300 tablets with power banks”. Furthermore, 15 Peripheral Health units (PHUs) and 4 District Vaccine Stores will be connected to solar-powered systems.
This supply of essential items is part of the “technical and operational support” that the country is receiving to “scale up COVID-19 vaccination” and “strengthen routine immunisation services across Sierra Leone”. Further consignments, including a refrigerated van, are expected to arrive by March 2023.
Dr Demby described the delivery as “heart-warming”, recognising that “COVID-19 vaccination is a vital lifesaving tool in the fight against COVID-19″.
“This move is a step in the right direction.”
Dr Demby suggested that Sierra Leone has “achieved over 70% of fully vaccinated individuals for COVID-19 vaccination”. Although the term “fully vaccinated” has become ambiguous as further variants and boosters develop, Dr Demby indicated that the donation would “boost the country’s determination in making more gains”.
The report from Gavi states that partners have ensured the delivery of up to 7,881,848 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the country through COVAX and “other sources”. Since March 2021, vaccination of “eligible members of the population has significantly improved”.
Gavi hopes that this recent support will continue the “positive trajectory” for the country. Dr Richard Mihigo, Director of COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery, Coordination and Integration at Gavi, is “proud” to collaborate in continued support of Sierra Leone’s vaccination rollout.
“These additional resources are vital investments that will further strengthening the health system as a while, supporting integration of COVID-19 vaccines into routine immunisation programmes, and ensuring more children are protected against various vaccine-preventable diseases.”
Dr Suleiman Braimoh, UNICEF Representative in Seirra Leone, indicated that they will “intensify efforts on the deployment of vaccines, strengthening of the cold chain system, community sensitisation, engagement for increased uptake of immunisation services”.
Stay vigilant, says WHO
Although the WHO recognised the progress made in the “fight” against COVID-19, Representative Dr Innocent Nuwagira warned that the “protracted nature” of the disease calls for “continued collaboration and partnership” to keep the momentum.
“WHO encourages everyone to remain vigilant, maintain the structures that were instituted to curb the pandemic, get more people vaccinated, and continue to administer booster doses in accordance with national guidelines to safeguard the gains that we have collectively made.”
For more on continued COVID-19 vaccination campaigns at the World Vaccine Congress in Washington 2023, get your tickets now.