Africa Gets €100m Boost From EU To Support COVID-19 Vaccination Campaigns
The EU has announced a €100 million fund that prioritises humanitarian settings and capacity building of national health authorities in Africa.

The European Union (EU) today pledged €100 million towards a humanitarian fund that will assist with COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in Africa.

The initiative was announced today at a press briefing addressed by Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC and Janez Lenarčič, European Commissioner for Crisis Management.

According to the EU, the new fund will support two complementary dimensions of the vaccination campaigns in Africa. A quarter of the fund will support the roll-out of the vaccination campaigns in African countries. It will also support capacity building of national health authorities and health care workers and will also support the management of information and vaccination coordination platforms.

“It will also address critical logistical gaps, including equipment. This implementation at country and continental level will ensure better and independent monitoring of the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination campaigns across Africa, supporting Africa CDC’s ongoing work. From a long-term perspective, it would also seek to reinforce national health systems’ resilience to address future epidemic outbreaks,” the EU said in a statement.

A second tranche of €65 million is set aside to support the roll-out of vaccination campaigns in specific humanitarian settings, notably in conflict and hard-to-reach areas, implemented through needs-specific activities, in close cooperation with various EU humanitarian partners. A further €10 million in reserve will be allocated to any of the two tracks as needed.

Continuous Support for Africa

Africa’s public health stakeholders have repeatedly decried vaccine nationalism of several rich countries including some in Europe that have an oversupply of COVID-19 vaccines for their citizens while groups at most risk in several African countries are yet to get vaccine doses.

But Lenarčič noted that the EU has continued to support Africa and is doing a lot to expand and ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccine doses in Africa through the COVAX Facility and several other bilateral and unilateral actions. “Almost half of what is produced in the EU is exported,” he said.

According to him, the EU believes and supports a global approach towards tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The EU has demonstrated its solidarity in many respects with regard to this pandemic, including through its financial contribution to the COVAX facility, and through export of vaccines produced in the EU. Together(with Africa CDC), we will be able to assist members of the African Union in rolling out their vaccination campaigns. This is part of what we see as a global approach,” Lenarčič said.

The EU has not always agreed with the Africa CDC on how best to approach poor access to COVID-19 vaccines in Africa. It opposed calls for intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines to be waived so that more vaccine producers, including some in Africa, are able to be involved in mass production so that sufficient doses are available across the world.

Fund Allocation

John Nkenkasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control.

Nkenkasong told Health Policy Watch that while the estimate of what each African country will receive through the initiative is not yet available, there are broad indications of the kinds of efforts the fund can support in AU member states.

“The fund is not to get vaccines and distribute them to countries; it is to first aid countries to set up vaccination centres, and the roll-outs mechanism. The breakdown of exactly how much will go to each country is not an issue that we can put on the table now; it will be based on their strategic plans,” he told HPW.

He said every African country now has a vaccination plan and to disburse the fund will require engaging the countries, look at the interface between Africa CDC’s discussions with them, where they are with their vaccination plans and needs they still have.

“Some countries are very capable of doing their own things and they may not need this kind of support. However, some countries would need tremendous support to get to where they have to be, and then the specificity of this program is very important—the humanitarian component is extremely valuable because it has to be tailored to meet those goals of the targeted nature of the funds,” he added.

Image Credits: European Union.

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