Cape Town Plans Vaccine Outreach Targeting Homeless as Part of ‘Healthy Cities’ grant
Bloomberg Philanthropies is supporting cities’ COVID-19 prevention effort

CAPE TOWN – The city is planning a vaccine outreach campaign aimed at encouraging an estimated 530,000 homeless people and migrants to get vaccinated.

Cape Town is one of 18 cities that has been chosen by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ ‘Healthy Cities’ initiative for a grant of up to $50,000 to support vaccine distribution to reach high-risk populations.

The city plans to use the grant for advertising on minibus taxis, mobile billboards and sky banners, and to fight misinformation via radio ads. In addition, vaccine registration units “will partner with trusted community leaders and hold socially distanced face-to-face consultations with people in hard-to-reach areas”, according to a news release. 

“It is important that, while our communities have access to health care, they also have access to reliable health information,” said Cape Town mayor Dan Plato. “We’ve seen the power of working with trusted local voices to share COVID-19 safety messages with vulnerable people earlier in the pandemic, and we plan to build on those efforts to encourage vaccination for all.” 

South Africa is currently only vaccinating health workers due to vaccine shortages but will start vaccinating those over the age of 60 on 17 May.

Buenos Aires in Argentina, will tackle a vaccine hesitancy problem among older homeless or isolated adults, using targeted messaging and by training formerly homeless “peer companions” for local outreach. 

Ending The Pandemic Everywhere

Phnom Penh in Cambodia will improve vaccine logistics and delivery, including acquiring new cold storage equipment to protect the vaccines as the onset of the local rainy season slows road travel.  

Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro will use the new funds to reach transgender people who are unhoused or in otherwise high-risk or isolated situations. 

Bloomberg Philanthropies founder Michael Bloomberg said that “local leaders have helped spearhead the world’s response to the pandemic from the beginning, and that now includes pushing to ensure vaccinations happen as quickly as possible, especially in high-risk communities”. 

Meanwhile, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, described the equitable distribution of vaccines as “not only a moral imperative, it is also an epidemiological and economic imperative”.

“As long as this virus is transmitting anywhere, the higher the chances that a variant will emerge that evades vaccines, and the longer the global economic recovery will take,” said Dr Tedros.

“We simply will not end the pandemic anywhere until we end it everywhere. These grants will support city leaders to reach some of the most vulnerable groups with vaccines.” 

Founded in 2017, the Partnership for Healthy Cities has grown into a network of 70 cities around the world committed to saving lives by preventing non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease and cancer, and injuries. 

In March 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies expanded support to help member cities by providing tools and information for COVID-19 prevention and mitigation measures as part of a $40 million Bloomberg Philanthropies COVID-19 Global Response Initiative. 

“Cities are drivers of public health and over the past year have mounted a remarkable COVID-19 response. The path to widespread vaccination is complex and requires detailed planning, coordination, data management, and logistics support by urban leaders and their staff,” said José Luis Castro, CEO of Vital Strategies, which is a partner in the initiative.

“We look forward to using our expertise to help cities improve their ability to reach high-risk communities as they develop and implement equitable policies and practices to safeguard health and rebuild stronger health, social, and economic systems.” 

Image Credits: Bloomberg Philanthropies.

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