The European Union joins the WHO to boost vaccination coverage against COVID-19 in Africa


Jafarasa Sadat, provincial leader of the Expanded Program on Immunization, administers the last injection of the day to Jauado Alifa, a community leader in Malica, a settlement for internally displaced people in Mozambique. ©WHO

A €16 million grant to WHO from the European Union’s ECHO (European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations) has helped increase vaccination rates against COVID-19 in a group of countries in Africa where levels of coverage were among the lowest in the world.

A main goal of the push is to make COVID-19 vaccination available to vulnerable groups such as the elderly, as well as populations displaced by conflict or natural disasters. The support is also strengthening the capacity of countries to carry out vaccination programs, which can be used to protect people from many other diseases.

With the added boost provided by ECHO funding, Mozambique has now vaccinated almost all of its adults, and the other 14 countries are making progress including increasing vaccination rates, training health workers, developing strategies and policies, and digitize data collection systems.

The 18-month project began in June 2021 and will run through the end of this year, working in Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia , South Sudan and Sudan.

The WHO effort is a part of the larger EU Humanitarian Initiative in support of COVID-19 vaccination in Africa, which is providing €100 million to 41 projects in 34 countries. Many other organizations are participating in the initiative, including the International Organization for Migration, the International Committee of the Red Cross, UNICEF and the World Food Program.

In this issue, see photos and stories highlighting the work of WHO ECHO inside camps for displaced people in Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria and South Sudan.

More: ECHO: Q&A

Project ECHO scales up COVID-19 vaccination in northeastern Nigeria

In Nigeria, a community volunteer explains the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination to internally displaced people. ©WHO

Hajara Maimuna Idi sits under a tree in the Gubio Road settlement for internally displaced persons, in Borno state, northeast Nigeria. She is puzzled by the reluctance of her fellow residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19, even though there is a vaccination center within the settlement.

“I got vaccinated because they told me it was for the benefit of my health. I didn’t want to be hospitalized for COVID-19,” she said. “The awareness team made us understand that vaccination against COVID-19 would help develop our immune system to fight the virus.”

Maimuna is one of 43 community volunteers trained by WHO to mobilize their peers to get vaccinated. The volunteers come from six densely populated host communities in three local government areas in Borno state.

Photo Feature: In Mozambique, WHO and ECHO partner with health workers to reach the most vulnerable

“I am very happy with the team’s visit today because some people here in the community were never vaccinated,” said Julieta José, above, an internally displaced person in Mozambique. “It is the best way to prevent COVID-19. I told everyone I know to come get him.” ©WHO

More: Mozambique vaccinates almost all adults against COVID-19

Data managers, immunization officers and district doctors in four provinces of Mozambique have received training through the ECHO-funded initiative. ©WHO/J. Pereira

Photo essay: In Liberia, refugees from Côte d’Ivoire prepare to get vaccinated against COVID-19

Bernard Manhan shows his vaccination card. The 57-year-old father of eight resides in the Bahn refugee camp in Liberia. He fled violence in Côte d’Ivoire in 2011. © WHO

Liberia’s vaccination campaigns are prioritizing the most vulnerable: health workers, adults over 60, people with diseases, refugees and other displaced people.

“Our goal is to make sure more people in the community get vaccinated. That way we will all be safe,” says Oretha Vanwen, a community health worker who administers COVID-19 vaccinations to refugees and host community members.

In South Sudan, a vaccination campaign involves a camp and its host community

Paul Pitia Alberto, a clinical nurse, prepares vaccines against COVID-19 in the Mangalla camp. ©WHO/South Sudan

Bornalia Kuajo Peter, a community leader in Mangalla, got vaccinated against COVID-19 in front of a crowd to express his opinion.

“I have taken one in front of you as your deputy chief that these vaccines are safe, especially for older people like us,” he said. “In my area, most people are 50 and older, so I urge everyone to come and get vaccinated.”

Bringing COVID-19 vaccination to settlements like Mangalla saves residents from having to make costly trips across the country. ©WHO/South Sudan


WHO is grateful to all governments, organizations and individuals who contribute to the work of the Organization and, in particular, to those who have provided fully flexible contributions to maintain a strong and independent WHO.

Donors and partners featured in this week’s stories include the European Commission’s Directorate General for European Civil Protection, the International Organization for Migration, the International Committee of the Red Cross, UNICEF and the World Food Programme.

The work described in these stories is made possible by a €16 million contribution to WHO from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).


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