Claims of vaccine hesitancy has nothing to do with the poor covid vaccine coverage in world’s poorest and most conflicted countries but the biggest obstacles are multifaceted and heterogenous, which includes factors such as proximity to vaccination centres, distrust of government, violence, unpredictable supply chains, insufficient workforce, lack of cold chain storage and transport barriers.
This comes up in a joint 55-page report by two advocacy groups and a research company. The report looked at the challenges faced by 14 countries.
“Our findings demonstrate that as the world moved and transitioned from COVID-19, massive inequities remain in access to all COVID-19 tools, including oxygen and rapid tests,” the report said. International Treatment Preparedness Coalition , People’s Vaccine Alliance and the Malaysian research company, Matahari Global Solutions held the study.
Pointing out that “claims of vaccine hesitancy in the Global South lack nuance and accuracy,” the report said that among developed nations, some 1.1 billion COVID-19 vaccines were likely wasted since the global rollout began, according to findings in July by Airfinity, a global health surveillance firm.
The study looked at Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Haiti, Jamaica, Liberia, Madagascar, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, Senegal, Somalia, Uganda and Ukraine.
COVID VACCINE: ANTIVIRAL
The report said that Doctors in rural healthcare centres in Haiti, Nigeria, and Madagascar reported either having never heard of the existence of novel antivirals for COVID-19.
COVID VACCINATION: COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS
Dr. Elia Badjo, founder and executive director of COSAMED and the lead local consultant for the ITPC/PVA project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), said health workers had not been paid since the start of the vaccination campaigns at the beginning of the pandemic due to lack of funds. The study says doctors and nurses in several rural communities reported never having heard of Paxlovid or novel antivirals for COVID-19, while some nations had no outreach to LGBTIQ persons, those who cannot afford to self-isolate if they tested positive, or people living in single-room homes.
COVID VACCINATION: POOR FINANCING PLANS FOR MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR OF OXYGEN PLANTS
The report states oxygen planning projections are incomplete In some countries such as Perú. Multiyear plans such as Liberia’s 2021-2024 National Roadmap to Increase Access to Medical Oxygen, which includes activities such as updating donor guidelines to include medical oxygen, and to establish and maintain a national database for oxygen equipment inventory, may be a best practice first s tep that can be adopted by other countries in this report.
COVID VACCINATION; SOCIAL SECURITY
The report states that many of the health workers and respondents in several rural areas reported not having regular food nor disposable income to take transport to health facilities for vaccinations or for other health services. Many of them in several countries (including Perú and Uganda) reported working in informal economy situation and could not afford to isolate if diagnosed with COVID- 19. Long-term planning is necessary for direct bank transfers and cash support during pandemics.
Respondents in DRC, Haiti, Nigeria, Somalia, and Ukraine spoke about conflict, insecurity, and natural disasters as major barriers to effective COVID-19 response, and as factors that exacerbated transmission. A failure to account for conflict, insecurity, and violence in pandemic planning compromises health commodities deployment and uptake.
The report mentioned that several countries lack digitised health workforce databases, which compromise rapid mapping, assessment, and deployment of the health workforce during health emergencies.
COVID VACCINE; APPROACH
Maaza Seyoum, the group’s Global South convenor, says the report shows that communities have repeatedly been let down by a system geared towards protecting people in wealthy countries – leaving people in the Global South abandoned.
“Their lives have been treated as an afterthought,” Seyoum said.
“Local populations are expected to shoulder blame and be grateful for what vaccines they do receive, when there has been little effort to meet their needs,” she said. “It is yet more evidence of the systemic racism that has plagued the global response to COVID-19.”
Fifa A. Rahman, the report’s lead author and principal consultant at Matahari Global Solutions, says the report found “layered issues why people are not accessing vaccines” rather than an outright, widespread distrust of vaccines.
“The vaccine hesitancy narrative is rooted in racism and colonialism and the idea that some people don’t know how to do certain things,” she said.
“It’s the same kind of condescension that still happens and it’s really problematic. Part of it is intellectual laziness, but it’s largely due to ingrained racism and colonialism
As per WHO weekly analysis, the number of cases decreased by 16% during the week of 22 to 28 August 2022 as compared to the previous week, with over 4.5 million new cases reported. The number of new weekly deaths also decreased as compared to the previous week, with over 13 500 fatalities reported.
As of 28 August 2022, over 598 million confirmed cases and over 6.4 million deaths have been reported globally.