The Pfizer project contributed to the goal of reaching 70% COVID-19 vaccination coverage across Zambia, Malawi, Senegal, and Uganda to prevent transmission, hospitalization, and death due to COVID-19 from its inception in August 2022. In the 12 months leading to the end of 2023, the project administered more than 386,00 COVID-19 vaccine doses and reached more than 5.6 million people through risk communication and community engagement efforts across the four countries. Additionally, as we pivoted project activities to align with new government directives prioritizing the integration of COVID-19 vaccination with routine health services, the project was able to administer more than 769,000 routine immunizations and 1.5 million other primary health care services. Our work was in direct alignment with the continent-wide strategy of the Africa CDC and national-level plans. Since then, the project has had a huge success within the countries and here are some stories from the field.
|Total COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Administered
Amref Health Africa staff in Zambia hands over refrigerator to Kasamanda Health Facility in-charge, Mambwe District in Zambia
In the heart of Mambwe District, Zambia, Ms. Kamwanda is more than a nurse; she’s the heartbeat of Kasamanda Rural Health Center (RHC). With 7,268 souls relying on her, every day brings both challenges and triumphs. The tale she weaves is one of dedication and resilience.
Kasamanda RHC, nestled in a community not reached by the Zambia Electricity Supply Company grid, faced an uphill battle in delivering Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) services. The absence of a stable electricity connection meant a reliance on expensive solar-powered storage for vaccines, causing disruptions in the vaccination schedule. To compound the struggles, the absence of a working motorbike made outreach sessions a logistical nightmare, often falling short of the planned goals.
Ms. Kamwanda’s eyes light up as she shares the turning point. Amref’s gift of a solar-powered fridge transformed their capabilities. The health centre can ensure uninterrupted delivery of crucial immunization services with a reliable storage solution. No longer bound by distance constraints and unreliable schedules, the community can access vaccinations without the burden of covering long distances.
The impact of this change is immeasurable, not only for Kasamanda but for neighbouring communities. Beyond the shadow of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the solar-powered fridge stands as a beacon of hope, radiating health and well-being to the community. In the words of Ms. Kamwanda, “Our community and children will not be disadvantaged.” This story is a testament to dedicated healthcare providers’ transformative power and the support initiatives like Amref bring to communities in need.
Illuminating Health in Malawi’s Remote Corners with Amref’s Solar-Powered Revolution
Dr Naomi Mviha, Director of Health and Social Services for Mzimba North district, received a Fridge for Mr Young Samanyika, Project Manager representing Amref.
In the vast stretches of Machinga, Mangochi, and Mzimba North districts in Malawi, a poignant tale unfolds in the remote communities of Ngokwe, Nankhwali, Kambwanda, and Matala. Here, the simple act of accessing vaccines has been an odyssey, a journey spanning 30 km through rugged terrain to the nearest health facility. This wasn’t just a physical challenge but a barrier to health, a reality faced for years by these far-flung health centres.
Imagine the struggle faced by Ngokwe, Nankhwali, and Kambwanda, where electricity was but a distant dream. The absence of this basic necessity cast a shadow on vital health operations, especially immunization efforts. The consequence was painfully clear—low vaccine coverage within these remote catchment areas. For the tireless Community Health Workers (CHWs), it meant traversing extensive distances during national campaigns, a burden that weighed heavy on their shoulders.
Then, enter Amref, a beacon of change through the Pfizer project. Solar-powered refrigerators, vaccine carriers, and cooler boxes arrived, transforming the healthcare landscape in these distant corners. ‘Hope’ took root in Matala, a facility 86 km from the district health office. The ripple effect is profound; communities once bound by the chains of distance are now free. Essential vaccinations are no longer a distant pilgrimage but a local service, ensuring improved vaccine coverage, a fortified cold chain system, and enhanced storage capacity.
This isn’t just a logistical upgrade; it’s a promise kept to communities that their health matters, irrespective of their geographical isolation. In the stillness of these remote landscapes, the hum of solar-powered change echoes—a melody of progress and better health for all.
Joyce Ajie’s Journey to Health, Hope, and Empowerment in Uganda
During targeted outreaches, Ajie Joyce introduced her clients to vaccination in Konoka District, Uganda
In Monodu Center, Kuluba sub-county, Koboko District, Uganda, a tale of resilience and triumph unfolds through the experiences of Joyce Ajie. A dedicated Village Health Team (VHT) member, Joyce faced the daunting challenge of completing her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The health facility was distant, and convincing family members to join her in vaccination became an uphill battle, overshadowed by pervasive myths and misconceptions.
Then came Amref, a beacon of support in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH). They brought vaccination services closer to the community, transforming the narrative for Joyce and her fellow VHTs. Through this initiative, they learned impactful approaches to engage and sensitize their neighbours about the crucial significance of vaccinations. Armed with newfound knowledge, Joyce became a catalyst for change in her community.
The story takes a profound turn. Once hesitant, Joyce, her family, and neighbours now proudly boast completed doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. But the impact doesn’t stop there. Amref’s support extended beyond health, providing Joyce with a transport refund for her engagement in vaccination activities. This seemingly small token yielded significant ripples—a portion settled her children’s school fees, while another part went into purchasing improved seeds for groundnuts and cassava. Today, the fruits of these seeds adorn her household, a tangible reminder of resilience, empowerment, and the transformative power of community health initiatives. Joyce smiles at her family’s newfound health security and the blossoming promise of a better life, nurtured through education and sustainable livelihoods.
As we come to a close of the project, we are grateful for the impact this intervention has had within the communities it served and for the partnerships and opportunities with Pfizer across the continent.
To learn more about our collaboration with Pfizer, please click here to access further information.
Jackson Musembi, Regional Project Manager – Amref Health Security Unit
David Mitine, Communications Officer – Amref Health Security Unit.