Twenty-one (21) months since the inception of the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and Mastercard Foundation have developed a flexible, agile and urgent approach in aligning evolving Member States’ needs to partner’s expertise and capacity. The new strategic priority aims to accelerate the implementation of the initiative to advance 100-100-70 vaccination coverage. The first 100 represents the percentage of vulnerable populations, including those above 60 years and those with co-morbidities, the second 100 represents the coverage in the percentage of essential workers as well as workers in the hospitality industries and 70 coverage of the target population.
The acceleration model in 2023 is premised on the potential optimization of opportunities for adapting to emerging themes like integrating activities with COVID-19 vaccination. The acceleration approach is timely and will be bolstered by the integration of activities that aims to define the scope of Member States driven around Primary Health Care (routine immunization, non-communicable disease and other communicable diseases). The integration objective provides an opportunity to sustain and accelerate the implementation of the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative by strengthening current COVID-19 campaigns while responding to Member States’ public health needs. With the focus shift to acceleration and integration, there will be greater emphasis on mobile outreach teams, mini and mass campaigns instead of the initial fixed sites. These outreaches and campaigns will be bundled with other Primary healthcare interventions, such as routine immunization for missed doses by children.
A recent workshop convened between Africa CDC and Mastercard Foundation underscored the need for acceleration compounded with integration. The workshop convened experts and the leadership of both organizations from 7 to 9 February 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya. The workshop was organized to take stock of the programme’s successes while outlining the next steps.
The two-day workshop was preceded by one-day field visits to Kitui and Kajiado counties, two of the eight implementing counties in Kenya, to assess the execution status of the initiative in line with the set targets. The field visits aimed to identify best practices to scale up in other Member States based on need.
Speaking at the meeting, the Acting Director of Africa CDC, Dr. Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, commended the good work of the implementing partners (Amref Health Africa and Kenya Red Cross) in Kenya. “It is time to execute the sound practices that will take Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative to a higher level, therefore let us act with speed and responsiveness to meet the set goals’, he stressed.
The Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative is in a strong position to drive successful integration given the established relationships with Member States and Partners, increased capacity through hiring, and its current sequenced approach to implementation.
The Chief Program Officer at Mastercard Foundation, Mr. Peter Materu, reaffirmed the commitment of the Foundation to the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative’s new approach. “2023 is the year of delivering with speed, driving scale and telling the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative story beyond vaccination, and the Foundation will fully support this approach,” he underscored.
The Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative will follow a phase-wise approach for integration activities, starting with six (6) Member States and planning to expand to more. These Member States in phase one include Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.
The integration of activities will be evaluated and strengthened through consistent adjustment of data-capturing tools to determine efficient community-led models for delivering COVID-19 vaccines through a combination of existing health and social structures. The processes will entail continuous experience sharing between various stakeholders at sub-national, national and regional levels to enhance integration practices and enable early identification and resolution of challenges.
Subsequently, opportunities for coordination and synergy will be identified. The programme will work closely with Member States and legacy partners to coordinate efforts and ensure improved utilization of resources and a more comprehensive reach of target populations.
The Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative aspires to rapidly create the demand for and increase the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines in African Union (AU) Member States in the shortest possible time. The initiative is anchored on AU efforts toward COVID-19 vaccine equity, with governance structures emphasizing strengthening national, regional, and continental institutions.