As West Africa begins vaccine deployment, what role should technology play?



As West Africa begins vaccine deployment, what role should technology play?

By Titilayo Adewumi, Regional Sales Director: West Africa at SAP

Titilayo Adewumi, Regional Sales Director: West Africa at SAP

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 5, 2021 – / African Media Agency (AMA) / – After more than a year of lockdowns and disruptions caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, African countries are preparing for the Most ambitious vaccine launch in human history.

All eyes are now on the ability of countries to secure, import and distribute vaccines effectively. This will require investment in local supply chains and a concerted effort by governments and health organizations to build trust with local populations and ensure that everyone who needs a vaccine can receive it.

In late February, Ghana became the first country in the world to receive a shipment of vaccines from the Covax initiative when 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived. Telecommunications operator MTN Group donated 165,000 more doses and the Indian government 50,000 more, but the country will need much more to adequately cover its 31 million citizens.

In early March, Nigeria followed when it received 3.9 million doses. The country plans to vaccinate 40% of its citizens by the end of 2021 and 70% by the end of 2022. An electronic registration portal has been made available where all people over the age of 18 can register in the government’s attempt to a efficient and orderly scheduling of vaccination when more doses are available in the country.

However, immense challenges remain to sufficiently vaccinate the more than 200 million citizens of the country. In fact, the entire region has a lot of work to do to build trust, improve local and regional supply chains, effectively engage citizens, and implement effective vaccination implementation.

Build trust through citizen participation, supply chain improvements

Details are still scant on the precision with which the vaccine launch in West Africa will be implemented. A recent study found high levels of hesitancy and low levels of confidence in the vaccination plans of five West African countries: only 31% of respondents said they trust their government ‘somewhat’ or ‘a lot’ to ensure that the vaccine be safe before it is. offered to citizens.

Governments need high citizen participation rates for vaccine launches to be successful. This requires them to build citizen confidence by understanding citizen sentiment throughout implementation and then quickly responding and managing any issues that arise.

The scale of vaccination implementation by governments is unprecedented, meaning that current systems and processes are too slow and inflexible to facilitate large-scale vaccine implementation. When considering the complexities of phased releases, multiple doses, and reporting, it is essential that governments leverage technology to optimize data collection, transfer, and analysis to accelerate releases.

At the supply chain level, the distribution and administration of vaccines at the scale of COVID-19 is a monumental challenge. The stakes are high because supply chain disruptions can impede vaccine delivery and further affect public confidence.

Delays are paid for in human lives and the prospect of herd immunity disappears. Reacting quickly to unexpected interruptions is key and is only possible if the entire supply chain, from procurement to production to delivery, is managed from start to finish.

According to the World Health Organization’s Vaccine Introduction Assessment Tool, African countries have an overall score of only 33% readiness to implement vaccines in their populations.

Strengthening the supply chain and building trust with citizens will be critical to the effective vaccination of populations in the West African region.

How Technology Can Support Vaccine Launch in West Africa

Emerging, emerging, and established technologies have a role to play in vaccination efforts in the region. For example, trying to identify which people require vaccines with some prioritization attempt could leverage data, data mining, data science, and patient segmentation based on various demographics, risk profiles, and patient history.

To track vaccine distribution in the region, a combination of technologies including blockchain, analytics, embedded scanners, location-tracking tags, and mobile apps could provide a framework for displaying relevant subsets of information to different supply chain stakeholders. .

In terms of patient engagement, self-service appointment booking, customer experience platforms, and capturing patient feedback via apps and kiosks at the contactless clinic can help determine how well physicians are doing their duty. Similar platforms can be leveraged to focus on the employee experience, offering insight into the mental well-being of front-line healthcare professionals and reducing the risk of burnout.

Going forward, machine learning and streaming analytics could help identify uneven patterns in data that speak to issues within procurement, production, logistics or financial audits. IoT, 5G, LoRa (long-range networks), and edge computing enable a wide range of use cases to be realized, where sensors can determine the conditions under which stocks are manufactured, stored, or shipped, and enable them to act before a critical response. major incidents arise.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges to the world, and West Africa is no exception. As the region prepares for the vital vaccine distribution process, it is critical that there are no undue delays or interruptions. This will also give citizens the confidence that the medicines they are obtaining are safe and efficient. Technology can play a valuable supporting role in ensuring a successful West African launch of the vaccine.

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