An industry partnership is working to ensure the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across Africa
Maryam Mahdi | | Quick Read
As global COVID-19 vaccine campaigns continue, Vodacom and AUDA NEPAD – the African Union’s development agency – have partnered to rollout mVacciNation, an interoperable, digital platform to help distribute vaccines across Africa and coordinate vaccine scheduling (1). The digital toolkit, launched as part of a continent-wide digital transformation partnership, consists of two core components and a control tower: a supply chain component that provides real-time information for health workers on the availability of vaccines and other medical equipment; and a beneficiary management component that allows individuals to register on the platform and assigns people to vaccine service points on a specific day and time.
“mVacciNation allows for the orchestrated distribution of stock to vaccination centers and temperature-controlled supply chain facilities,” says Peter Breitenbach, Head of Product and Strategy for Vodacom subsidiary, Mezzanine. “An additional benefit is that, each time someone is vaccinated, their digital record is updated – and, if a further dose is required, mVacciNation automatically schedules and sends a follow-up date via SMS. Once vaccination is completed, the individual will receive electronic certification.” The platform can also be linked to countries’ vaccination travel passport platforms.
Though there are challenges in its implementation – particularly in rural areas where access to mobile devices may be limited – mVacciNation is already being used to manage COVID-19 vaccinations in South Africa, where over 300,000 people have been vaccinated to date. The platform also has applications beyond Covid-19. The Ministries of Health in Tanzania, Mozambique, and Nigeria have used the platform to improve immunization rates for childhood vaccines successfully in the past. Breitenbach adds, “Once installed, the mVacciNation platform will remain in place to help countries better manage future pandemics and other large-scale health programs. By agreeing to roll out mVacciNation, countries will be creating digital health infrastructure for the long term.”
Though mVacciNation is the collaborative team’s first joint venture, they plan to continue working together to create other digital tools. “Connecting everyone on the continent to the digital economy and ensuring that no one is left behind remains the seminal challenge of our time,” Breitenbach says. “To do this, we must accelerate digitization efforts through the right public-private partnerships and expand regional cooperation – because we cannot achieve this in isolation.”
- Vodafone (2021). Available at https://bit.ly/3vLdHX3.