July 07, 2022
July 4-7, 2022 – Dar es Salaam and Dodoma: The Global Senior Coordinator of the COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Partnership (CoVDP), United Nations Under-Secretary-General Mr. Ted Chaiban arrived in Tanzania on July 4, 2022 for a four-day official visit. Accompanied by Acting WHO Country Representative, Dr. Zabulon Yoti and UNICEF Country Representative, Ms. Shalini Bahughuna; Mr. Chaiban participated in high-level joint advocacy meetings with key government officials, including Vice President Dr. Philip Mpango and Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Ambassador Liberata Mulamula; Heads of UN agencies and development partners in Dar es Salaam.
In Dodoma, Mr. Chaiban had the opportunity to meet with officials from the Mainland Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance and Planning and Ministry of State, Office of the President, Regional Administration and local authorities (PORALG); non-state actors (CSOs and NGOs) and religious leaders to deliberate on strategies to accelerate COVID-19 vaccination coverage by leveraging existing partnerships; technical and financial resources and political commitment to ensure that the COVID-19 response remains a top priority for the country.
Citing the progress the country has made, Mr. Chaiban said, “Tanzania has been late in rolling out COVID-19 vaccines, but we commend the government for the tremendous efforts made to make these vaccines available to its people through through mass campaigns and in health facilities”.
“Tanzania must now maintain the momentum and accelerate vaccinations, especially ensuring that vulnerable groups such as the elderly, people with chronic diseases are prioritized and deliberate efforts are made to ensure that all are vaccinated,” he added.
Tanzania began vaccination against COVID-19 in August 2021. Initial high demand has waned, necessitating scaling up efforts through accelerated national campaigns. More success was recorded in the third cycle of the national accelerated campaign which was launched on June 2 this year, when the national vaccination rate was 6.3%. By July 5, the percentage of the total population vaccinated had doubled to 12.4%.
Addressing NSAs, Mr. Chaiban commended the work of civil society organizations at the sub-national level and the added value they bring to the global response to the pandemic. “Through your networks at local level, we can reach vulnerable populations in remote rural areas with vaccines and correct information to increase confidence in vaccines.” NSA representatives had the opportunity to highlight the achievements and challenges faced in promoting COVID-19 vaccines across the country. “We need to rethink and have common messages that address community concerns about the benefits of vaccination.” was a contribution from a represented NGO.
Interacting with religious leaders, Mr Chaiban advocated for continued partnership with faith-based organizations to ensure vaccine messages reach the elderly population through places of worship. “The public (and especially older people) continue to see religious leaders as role models and credible messengers of information. In this way, you have an important role in advocating for the needs of vulnerable populations”.
At the start of the pandemic in Tanzania, religious leaders were actively engaged in raising awareness of preventive measures against COVID-19 within their congregations. Faith leaders have helped as first responders and advisers, fighting stigma and praying for the world and decision makers.
Pledging to support national efforts in the fight against COVID-19, the president of the association of religious leaders said: “We have been role models not only in getting vaccinated in public, but also in practicing safety precautions. We have promoted the wearing of masks, physical distancing measures and installed hand hygiene points in places of worship. We will continue to do so in partnership with the government.”
The mission was supported by technical staff from WHO headquarters, regional offices and country offices, who supported immunization roll-out efforts specifically in the areas of microplanning, surveillance, management data and risk communication and community engagement.
In addition, WHO is providing technical and financial assistance to ongoing national mass immunization campaigns, focusing on two underperforming regions – Manyara and Rukwa. In Manyara, WHO and local government authorities were able to triple the total number of fully immunized people from 4.9% to 16% in less than 10 days.
WHO, UNICEF and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance launched the COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Partnership (CoVDP) in January 2022 to advocate for the urgency of turning vaccine doses into vaccinated and protected communities. The CoVDP builds on existing structures to support the 92 low- and middle-income economies of the COVAX facility focusing primarily on the 34 countries that were at or below 10% coverage as of January 2022. Working closely Working with countries to understand immunization bottlenecks, the CoVDP provides access to urgent operational funding, technical assistance, and political commitment to rapidly scale up immunization and track progress toward goals.
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Dr. William Mwengee
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