Togo leads the way in COVID-19 vaccine roll-out
With support from Gavi, WHO and UNICEF, Togo is pulling out all the stops to get COVID-19 vaccines to the people that need them.
21 September 2021 – by Nephthali Messanh Ledy
On 6 March 2020 Togo reported its first COVID-19 case, joining the dozens of the African countries to be hit by the pandemic.
Local authorities were quick to act. A set of measures, including partial lockdowns, were imposed in the capital Lomé and several other cities in a move to curb the spread of the disease.
To tackle the pandemic and support the vaccine roll-out campaign, the small West African country focused on expanding medical infrastructure and providing laboratory equipment and logistical support to existing, frail medical centres.
“Since the beginning of this terrible pandemic, our country is doing everything possible to overcome the health and economic challenges”
Close to 70 vaccination centres have been opened across the country to help meet the government target inoculate 4.8 million Togolese, with 60% of the general population qualifying for the jab.
Sodji Evra, a young entrepreneur who received both jabs of the AstraZeneca vaccine, says, “To be honest, I was frightened for my life when news of the first COVID-19 case was announced because, in Africa, we don’t always have access to great healthcare.”
The country is receiving international support: over 1.2 million vaccine doses have been delivered to Togo so far by the COVAX Facility, 118,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been delivered by the African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and US$ 1 million in funding was recently approved by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to support delivery costs.
“My thanks to all the partners who support our country in its strategy to fight against this pandemic that has a very negative impact on our lives and economies,” President Faure Gnassingbe tweeted after the arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines. “Since the beginning of this terrible pandemic of COVID-19, our country is doing everything possible to overcome the health and economic challenges.”
As of 9 September, Togo has received a total of 1,629,390 doses of vaccine through various schemes and donations from bilateral partners, according to Dr Boko Amevegbe, EPI Director.
There has been some reluctance from people to register for their jab, for reasons including the vast amounts of misinformation circulating on social media. To stem misinformation, authorities have received support from international partners including WHO and Gavi.
The office of Dr Fatoumata Binta Tidiane Diallo, World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative in Togo, highlights that they have been sharing information with experts from the Ministry of Health and partners.
“To deal with misinformation, we have mobilised prefects, mayors, canton and village chiefs, civil society organisations (CSOs), and religious and community leaders,” says Dr. Boko Amevegbe, Deputy Coordinator of the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 in Lomé Commune.
Authorities have also received help from UNICEF, which is providing logistical assistance such as support to ultra-cold chain (UCC) systems to keep the vaccines at the right temperature as they make their way from the airport to the arms of the vulnerable.
“We congratulate the government of Togo which was quick to take necessary measures to stem the pandemic by proving quality care to patients and the vaccination of at least 20% of vulnerable populations,” says Dr Aissata Ba Sidibe, the UNICEF representative in Togo.
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