Geneva, 1 June 2020 – Through a US$ 5 million investment in Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, The Rockefeller Foundation has committed to strengthening the critical role frontline health workers play in delivering immunisation services in Gavi-supported countries by providing digital tools and innovative information-sharing approaches that help them improve equitable access to life-saving vaccines.
Frontline health workers are critical to ensure that good quality primary health care and immunisation services are continuously available throughout the pandemic and will be crucial to administering novel COVID-19 vaccines, should they become available. In this current situation of additional strain on countries’ health systems, frontline health workers are frequently in short supply and lack the resources to deal with additional tasks such as detecting, preventing and treating COVID-19 cases and ally care givers’ fears to safeguard the public trust in immunisation services.
“Frontline workers at the local community level deliver the essential vaccines and other services people need to live healthy lives,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “In many Gavi-supported countries, these workers are too often overtaxed and under-equipped with the knowledge and tools to deliver care, and the COVID-19 crisis is in many places making that problem far worse. This collaboration with The Rockefeller Foundation has the potential to help Gavi accelerate the availability and adoption of innovations, from health and other sectors, that will provide these health workers the adequate training and support they need to face these challenging times.”
This partnership aims to support the rapid implementation of innovative solutions, leverage new partners, generate insights and build a strategy to improve health workforce development and performance in Gavi-supported countries. It will explore how best to use digital technologies – such as mobile phone applications, A.I. (e.g., chatbots) and gamification – to transform health workers’ learning, training and performance monitoring.
Starting with the deployment of rapid funding to address the current crisis, Gavi and The Rockefeller Foundation are working together to transform the way frontline health workers, nurses, vaccinators and community health workers, deliver critical immunisation services. By scaling the development and deployment of innovative solutions we can empower health workers to improve the quality of their work, protecting children against vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, diphtheria, polio or yellow fever.
“The global pandemic is already redefining the delivery of health services, making the use of innovation and digital technologies even more critical,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “We recognise Gavi’s efforts in strengthening health systems and making sure frontline health workers are prepared to face these new challenges. We are looking forward to working together and contributing to closing the health inequity gap.”
Funding from The Rockefeller Foundation will support improving how health workers, supervisors, communities and caregivers acquire knowledge they can use to improve the quality of care.
In preparation for its next strategic period starting in 2021, Gavi has placed a special emphasis on learning and performance management of health workers in countries it supports. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the urgency of these efforts, as health workers, particularly in countries where resources are scarce, respond to the crisis while trying to continue their routine work.