Coming to a clinic near you: Kenya’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign gets a boost

NAIROBI, Dec.10 (Reuters) – Now that rich countries are sharing more COVID-19 vaccines with Africa, health officials across the continent are scrambling to overcome vaccine reluctance and logistical challenges to bring the doses in the arms fairly quickly before they expire.

Penda Health, a Nairobi-based channel providing low-cost private health care, has found a way to speed things up – to bring injections closer to people’s homes.

For many Kenyans, going to one of the major priority hospitals as vaccination centers meant lost income by missing work and finding transportation they couldn’t afford. So many people haven’t been there.

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But this week, dozens of people patiently lined up for an injection outside Tassia Medical Center in Penda, a clinic that now dispenses the vaccine to their doorsteps in one of Nairobi’s poorest neighborhoods.

“It’s closer to where I live. I have a son so it’s more accessible. I just walk for a minute and I’m there,” said Nancy Mwebi, 26, adding that many of her friends were concerned that they only get charged for once doses. they reached a big hospital.

Tassia’s small medical center administered 442 injections last week, compared to 782 injections during the same period at Karen Hospital, one of Nairobi’s largest private hospitals.

With only 7% of people fully vaccinated across Africa and vaccine supplies improving, experts are urging African governments to copy the type of approach Penda is taking to improve uptake across the continent.

When Penda noticed that many of her patients did not have access to vaccines after the doses started arriving in Kenya in March, she approached the Ministry of Health to establish a partnership.

But Penda, founded in 2012, still only offers injections at seven of its 21 clinics in Nairobi due to the expense of rolling out the program.

Vaccines may be free, but Penda has to pay 240,000 Kenyan shillings ($ 2,100) for World Health Organization-approved refrigerators to store them and has staff costs to administer the vaccine and keep records. which amounts to $ 1,000 per month for each clinic.

“It’s a small price to pay to get so many shots, but on the other hand, it’s very difficult for the narrow margins we have in our medical centers,” Penda chief medical officer said. , Dr. Robert Korom.

Last week, Penda administered about three out of 1,000 COVID vaccines given in Kenya, according to data from Penda and the Ministry of Health.

“The health ministry is aware that vaccination must go to the last mile and especially in villages and at the base,” Andrew Mulwa, acting director of the ministry’s medical services, told Reuters.

He said partners, including private sector actors, were key to achieving Kenya’s goal of immunizing the entire adult population by the end of 2022.

($ 1 = 112.8 Kenyan shillings)

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Reporting by Maggie Fick; Editing by Katharine Houreld and Edmund Blair

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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