“Our community-based volunteers have the access and trust that are needed to address vaccine hesitancy and sensitise communities about adherence to preventive measures,” IFRC noted.
The Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Wednesday launched a new collaboration to strengthen community resilience and response to public health emergencies at community levels.
The two organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to build up pandemic response, including testing support to countries; community mobilisation; advocacy and scaling up of contact tracing as well as other areas of public health.
According to a statement released through APO, a leading pan-African communications consultancy group, the institutions are expected to increase investments in locally-led actions for prevention and response purposes and also work with governments to ensure they intensify efforts to roll out the COVID-19 vaccination.
About Africa CDC
Africa CDC is a continental organisation that strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions as well as partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programmes.
Noting that Africa CDC and IFRC will scale up advocacy against vaccine wastage, the statement stated that the new initiative comes at a time when Africa is facing major vaccine shortages, amid a high level of community transmission in some Africa countries.
Africa CDC Director, John Nkengasong, said Africa is facing a double-edged challenge of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, dealing with health response gaps, and also trying to ensure that the continent prepares efficiently for future pandemics, using lessons from the current challenges.
“Africa CDC has been implementing various public health responses to control COVID-19. These include the engagement of community health workers in risk communication and community sensitisation, surveillance activities for early case identification, contact tracing, and in facilitating referrals for testing and continuum of care,” he said.
Also speaking, IFRC Secretary General, Jagan Chapagain, said what the IFRC and its network of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies bring to the partnership is “our unparalleled access to local communities.”
“Our community-based volunteers have the access and trust that are needed to address vaccine hesitancy and sensitise communities about adherence to preventive measures,” he added.
Africa CDC has been working to support African Union Member States to build a wide network of 2 million community health workers (CHWs) in line with the July 2017 African Union Assembly Decision.
The collaboration with the IFRC network, which includes 1.2 million Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers across the continent is expected to strengthen community level interventions and consolidate gains in tackling the spread of the virus, while increasing awareness about vaccine benefits.
National Red Cross Red and Crescent Societies across Africa remain on the frontline of the response to COVID-19. They are providing ambulance services; conducting contact tracing and point of entry screening. They are also tackling stigma and the spread of misinformation and provide emotional comfort and psychological support to people in need.