February 1, 2022
By Janice Biehn
PWRDF is supporting a pandemic response in the West African country of Mali, partnering with Global Affairs Canada and non-governmental organization Muso. The program aims to administer 40,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine and to increase the percentage of fully vaccinated people in the program area to 40% from 26%. The Government of Canada is the lead funder of the project and PWRDF is providing $47,000. Muso is the implementing partner and has been operating in Mali since 2008.
Landlocked and with a population of 19 million, Mali is the eighth-largest country in Africa in terms of land mass. Mali’s interim authorities’ have cancelled democratic elections to be held in February, and in response, the country is facing sanctions from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Several NGOs working in the country have warned that these sanctions will be devastating and threaten to cut off much needed humanitarian aid. According to Relief Web, 70% of Mali’s food is imported and 1.2 million Malians are facing a food crisis.
As of January 21, 2022, there have been 29,360 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 704 deaths, reported to the World Health Organization. As of January 24, 2022, a total of 1,409,266 vaccine doses have been administered. Two thirds of COVID cases were identified in the capital city of Bamako, where the six-month vaccine rollout will operate.
Despite improvements in the health system over the last 20 years, women in Mali continue to encounter numerous barriers when accessing health for themselves and their families. As a result of COVID-19, existing barriers to health services have increased. Mali’s health system is struggling to respond to the pandemic; vaccine hesitancy and poor contact tracing and monitoring are worsening the situation.
The project will remove barriers to care such as cost, distance and gender inequality. It will equip frontline workers with the tools needed to provide care safely, for both infected and non-infected people, and allow regular health care operations to continue. The project design is informed by Mali’s National COVID-19 plan and the World Health Organization, as well as the lessons learned from Muso’s 15 years of community response and outreach in Mali.
Muso will deploy three mobile vaccination teams from each of the 12 community health centres in Commune VI. Each team will have three vaccinators for a total of 114 vaccinators across all facilities. All vaccinators will participate in a one-day training session on the new vaccine, how to communicate its efficacy and what those receiving the shots can expect. These teams will then travel outside their health facilities to markets and other locations in the catchment area to reach people in the community. Supervision teams from the district will provide quality control through periodic visits to the mobile outreach sites.
To underline and reinforce this campaign, Muso will also train health personnel at vaccination facilities to support inputting vaccination information into database systems.
Since the start of the pandemic, PWRDF and the Government of Canada have been supporting partners coping with COVID-19 in four East Africa countries – Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Mozambique.