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76th UNGA Side Event: Community understanding and trust as key drivers for vaccinations in Africa
September 24 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Trust is a key component of successful roll-out of any vaccination program.
Yet – trust building and acceptance around vaccines, and COVID-19 vaccines in particular, remain an under-explored area. And when explored it often lacks a focus on people and community – the human element. There is merit in changing the way the world thinks about vaccine acceptance in Africa. As Director of Africa CDC, Dr John Nkengasong, has made a call to action: “Let’s find out what is the wall between us and the communities, and how we bridge the trust gap”.
Covid has uncovered deep-seated issues around vaccines:
- Vaccine scarcity in Africa – and abundance in the north – the inequity in distribution of a life-saving commodity
- Misinformation, misunderstanding and lack of trust in the community with respect to vaccines and even the pandemic itself – what is the community voice here, what are their beliefs and practices with respect to illness and vaccines
- Lack of proper communication at the community level to dispel myths about vaccines, thus the level of confidence and acceptance which exists on the continent – the role of government and health facilities; how can we enable community health workers to bridge this knowledge gap – supported by technology
- Fragile & weak health systems which have been chronically underfunded being unable to address the emergent needs presenting as a result of covid and other pandemics
Governments and institutions are coming to understand the importance of planning for and mitigating risks related to vaccine acceptance. Several reports such as the GOARN COVID-19 Global Risk Communication and Engagement Strategy report are focusing on building trust and social cohesion to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
This roundtable discussion contemplates the development of a trust framework and how actors and institutions, national governments as well as local organizations would utilize this framework and how will it impact their success in achieving equitable vaccine delivery and uptake in the future.