By Mary Hearty

In an effort to protect hard-to-reach communities from the COVID-19 pandemic, Amref Health Africa and AstraZeneca, in partnership with Kenya’s Ministry of Health (MoH) are set to launch 10 Mobile Vaccination Clinics (MVCs) to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines and other health services across the country.

The mobile clinics will help to bridge the COVID-19 vaccine gap by providing vaccine education, COVID-19 screening, safe and accessible vaccination, and post-immunization care.

As of 17 June 2022, 31.4% of the adult population in Kenya is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while Africa’s average vaccination rate is 17.7% lagging behind other world regions.

Each mobile clinic aims to vaccinate 70-100 people per day reaching up to 1,000 people per day once all 10 mobile clinics are fully operational.

Operated in partnership with the County Health Departments, and adhering to health and infection prevention control standards, the custom-built clinics are fitted with solar-powered fridges and backup power supply.

Timely data capture and reporting is facilitated through onsite web-enabled computers. Amref Flying Doctors (AFD) will replenish the mobile clinics in hard-to-reach areas to ensure their effective deployment.

“It is evident that health emergencies are here to stay, and thinking out of the box through innovations in health may be our only chance at timely response if, and when emergencies occur,” Dr. Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO Amref Health Africa, said.

He stated that addressing other health determinants such as non-communicable diseases that influence how health emergencies affect us is critical to avert the negative impact that health emergencies such as COVID-19 have on communities, noting that the movable clinics are a great addition to the toolkit that will ensure equity in access to last-mile communities with much-needed vaccination and essential health services.

“Together with our partners, the Ministry of Health in Kenya, AstraZeneca, and other stakeholders in the private and public sectors, we remain committed to sustaining the momentum towards vaccinating 70% of the eligible population through this innovative solution. Ultimately, the clinics will add to the health system infrastructure, further improving our preparedness for health emergencies in the country,” Dr Gitahi further explained.

Dr Pelin Incesu, Area Vice President, AstraZeneca for the Middle East and Africa said, “We are thrilled to launch this innovative partnership with the Ministry of Health and Amref Health Africa to ensure that no Kenyan is left behind in our efforts to protect lives from COVID-19 and other life-threatening diseases.  This is part of AstraZeneca’s ongoing commitment to a patient-centric response to the pandemic. To date, over three billion doses of our COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered across the globe, helping to save an estimated 3.6 million lives.”

As Kenya integrates vaccination services into primary health care, the clinics will integrate health promotion to raise awareness of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and provide NCD health service continuity, specifically targeting people living with diabetes and hypertension.

When not conducting community outreach, the clinics will support existing public health infrastructure by serving as fixed clinics, thereby reducing the burden on local health facilities.