Solidarity Fund to give vaccine rollout a shot in the arm
The Solidarity Fund's health pillar co-lead, Dr Gugu Ngubane, says the funding initiative will now focus on strengthening capacity and ensuring rapid availability of resources for a successful rollout of Covid-19 vaccines to achieve herd immunity.
The pledge by the fund comes as the government gears up for the rollout of vaccines to the rest of the population after the initial phase targeting health-care workers.
Ngubane, a specialist in public health medicine, said other areas of support will be determined by the department of health.
“The vaccines are an important public health intervention that do not only protect an individual from contracting diseases but are also an act of solidarity where one's decision to vaccinate or not affects everyone else's health,” she said.
“Some of us have lived to adult age without experiencing TB, polio and other infectious diseases because we were vaccinated as children. Currently we only read of diseases such as smallpox but have never experienced it precisely because of the potency of vaccines to eradicate infectious diseases.”
The fund was established to operate as a rapid response funding vehicle to support and augment the government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ngubane said vaccine rollout is the most critical and largest undertaking in the global Covid-19 response, along with preventive behaviour.
She said the Solidarity Fund’s health pillar has so far donated more than 51m units of personal protective equipment to frontline health-care workers and community-care workers.
“We contributed to improving capacity to expand Covid-19 testing coverage by supporting more testing labs. We funded local manufacture of 20,000 non-invasive ventilators called ‘CPAPs’, which provide continuous positive airway pressure support to patients that are in acute respiratory distress,” she said.
“The fund is currently supporting hotspot provinces that have been hardest hit by the pandemic – Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal – with procurement of essential Covid-19 medical equipment.”