United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is impressed with Zambia’s Covid-19 vaccination programme.
Visiting USAID Covid-19 Taskforce Executive Director, Jeremy Konyndyk says if Zambia continues with the current momentum in vaccinations against Covid-19, the country stands a chance of becoming a model for the rest of Africa.
Speaking during a briefing after touring the Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) office to witness the Covid-19 response firsthand, Mr. Konyndyk said the government has shown political will to tackle the pandemic.
He said this is evidenced by having a Special Assistant for Covid-19 at State House.
Mr. Konyndyk observed that the biggest obstacle to the fight against the pandemic in the country is access to the vaccine and not resistance from the public.
He said there is therefore a need to make the vaccine more accessible to citizens by taking it to public places.
And Mr. Konyndyk has praised Zambia for targeting to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the eligible population by June 30, 2022.
“It is a good target, it is a great target. It is a very ambitious target,” he said.
And Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Emmanuel Qua-Enoo, disclosed that in the last three years, USAID provided over US$20 million to CIDRZ to run three different projects.
Mr. Qua-Enoo said recently that USAID pumped in an additional US$3.9 million through the Tuberculosis Local Organisations Network (TBLON) project, which supports TB care and treatment in nine districts in Lusaka and Southern Provinces.
“This funding has enhanced bedside care of Covid patients. The project has contributed to increasing the capacity of frontline health workers treating Covid patients by employing 170 short term nurses who were deployed in various parts of the country,” he said.
And Lusaka Provincial Health Office HIV/TB Lead Mentor, Francis Mwape, called for concerted efforts to fight the pandemic.
The USAID delegation’s visit to Zambia follows the announcement that Zambia is one of the 11 countries earmarked to receive surge Covid-19 funding of US$28 million from the United States.
Meanwhile, The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has pledged continued support towards the fight against Tuberculosis, maternal child health, HIV/AIDS among other diseases.
USAID COVID-19 Task force Executive Director, Jeremy Konyndyk acknowledged the need to support the fight against the said ailments simultaneously with COVID -19.
Mr. Konyndyk said in Ndola yesterday after inspecting some COVID- 19 vaccination centers that fighting disease will reduce the pressure health authorities’ face in managing COVID- 19 patients with other chronic illnesses.
“It’s really important that we are fighting all these things at once. If people with other chronic diseases get COVID-19 their bodies become weak and this makes it hard to fight COVID-19 easily,” he said.
He said the agency will continue providing a comprehensive range of health support to the people of Zambia aside the COVID -19 pandemic.
And Presidential Advisor on COVID-19, Roma Chilengi implored health authorities to ensure the vaccines are not stockpiled in the fridges but rather injected in people’s bodies.
Professor Chilengi assured that government has made sure that the supply side of vaccines is sustained.
Professor Chilengi said that government has also made necessary arrangements to ensure the momentum in the supply of vaccines is maintained.
He warned of the anticipated fifth wave as the country enters winter season and that people should troop to the various vaccination centres and protect their lives.
Meanwhile, Copperbelt Province Permanent Secretary, Augustine Kasongo commended USAID for the continued support to the Ministry of Health.