WHO - World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa

06/20/2022 | Press release | Archived content

Namibia takes action to address hesitancy towards COVID-19 vaccines

Namibia takes action to address hesitancy towards COVID-19 vaccines

20 June 2022

COVID-19 vaccination is key to control COVID-19 pandemic, however Namibia is amongst the countries in Africa with low vaccination rate. As of 15 June 2022, only 23.8% Namibians were fully vaccinated from the target population of 1,779,271.

To address the low uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS) with support from WHO and partners held a consultation with stakeholders on 14-15 June 2022. The meeting aimed to measure performance and coverage of COVID-19 vaccination, reflect on the findings of the 14 regional intra-action reviews as well as the findings from the the KAP and vaccine hesitancy surveys. The meeting further reflected on the impact of the 'Get Vaccinated and kick COVID-19 out of Namibia 'communication campaigns which targeted the general population and subsequently children and adolescents. Different strategies were considered as possible good and innovative practices for possible adaptation to a planned national integrated vaccination campaign. The meeting also identified key challenges to ensure effective and efficient service delivery in relation to COVID-19 vaccines, routine immunization and other child health services.

Dr Mary Brantuo, WHO Health Systems, Participatory Governance & Policy Advisor, commented the government's introduction and rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine since March 2021. She noted the overwhelming support from public and private sector as well as the innovation to reach the hard to reach areas including the activation campaigns led by the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology. Despite these investments, hesitancy towards the vaccines remains and affect the country's ability to meet its vaccination target. She advised that 'while the MoHSS has reviewed the performance of the vaccination pillar through Intra Action Reviews which looked at the best practices and identified major challenges, it remains critical to once again with renewed energy and commitment re-strategize from the lessons learned during the year of implementation.'

Speaking on behalf of UNICEF, Ms Gloria Siseho, expressed great pleasure in being a part of this memorable event that showcased that COVID-19 vaccination and routine immunization was high on the national agenda. Namibia is among a few countries that ensured children continued learning and kept school disruption to a minimal during the peak of the pandemic. She noted with concern the decline in the immunization coverages in the country and the threat of polio and measles outbreaks reported in neighboring Angola and Botswana as well as the measles outbreak in Omusati. She further praised Namibia for arranging the stakeholder meeting to review the performance and strategies for an improved response without compromising routine immunization of the Namibian child.

Honorable Dr Kalumbi Shangula, the Minister of Health and Social Services expressed concerned over the low uptake of COVID-19 vaccines and called on an urgent national campaign on COVID-19 and supplementary immunization. He also referred to the need to strengthen cross border collaboration as a key strategy for disease control. He further noted that the commitment Namibia made at the 75th World Health Assembly to 'improve immunization coverages by prioritizing vulnerable populations, deliver outreach vaccination activities to remote and hard-to-reach areas, including door-to-door vaccination necessitates the consultation with stakeholders to review progress and address gaps.

The meeting agreed to a national integrated immunization campaign with intensified risk communication and community engagement interventions. The meeting also prioritized 5 strategies for RCCE, Vaccination and resource mobilization to fast track the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Over 50 participants from the Ministry of Health and Social Services national and regional management, other government Ministries, UN agencies and civil society organizations participated in the consultation meeting.

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