YAOUNDE, Cameroon

A humanitarian group has launched online training to ensure local vaccinators in over 20 African countries are ready to do their job as COVID-19 vaccines become available.

In a statement late Wednesday, US-based Project HOPE said over 140 participants from South Africa and Ethiopia last week already took the first training.

“As vaccines become available, local vaccinators are racing against time to immunize as many people as possible. With these training, healthcare workers are equipped with adequate knowledge and skills to respond rapidly and safely,” said Rabih Torbay, the group’s head.

According to a statement, the training was developed in partnership with the US Brown University’s Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies, following World Health Organization guidelines and supporting the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) COVID-19 deployment and vaccination strategy.

So far several African countries have received vaccines from the COVAX Facility for fair distribution, including Rwanda, Senegal, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and the Gambia.

The start of Africa’s biggest immunization drive in history through the COVAX Facility marks a step forward in the continent’s fight against COVID-19, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s Africa director, said earlier this week when vaccines started to arrive on the continent.

“Acquiring supplies is simply not enough – we need to ensure that we continue to develop the capacity of our public health workforce in order to fight the ongoing pandemic in Africa,” Dr. John Nkengasong, the director of Africa CDC, was quoted in the statement as saying.

“This partnership is an example of how to support those efforts, particularly at this critical time as we prepare to deploy vaccines across the continent,” he added.

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