Private Sector Collaboration for COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery

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Lead Paragraph/Summary

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Global Health Supply Chain Program – Technical Assistance (GHSC-TA) works in collaboration with the National Department of Health (NDoH), Provincial Departments of Health (PDoHs), and regulatory bodies to strengthen public health systems in South Africa and improve health outcomes. The COVID-19 pandemic sparked an urgency to address the logistical problem of providing the South African population with timeous vaccination. South Africa's population is estimated at 59,572,622. By December 2021 there had been 3,458,286 infections of COVID-19 in the country, with 91,312 recorded deaths as of December 31, 2021.

GHSC-TA provides comprehensive technical assistance to the NDoH, PDoH, the private sector, and other stakeholders in the planning and roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination program.

Public taxis are a critical pillar of the public transport sector servicing the majority of South Africa's working population. Setting up a vaccination site was thus an imperative for SA Taxi. With about 35, 000 minibus taxis on book, they service a large number of commuters in the population. SA Taxi Investor Relations Manager, Megan Morreira shares that "We wanted to do our part when we approached the NDoH to obtain the relevant permits in order to open up our own vaccination site with Kaelo Health Care as the clinic partner".

GHSC-TA support included assisting the NDoH to manage vaccine supplies, distributors, order management, and the design of solutions for equitable distribution. GHSC-TA also supported implementation of the Stock Visibility System COVID-19 (SVS COVID-19) - the stock monitoring system used in the private and public sectors to monitor the availability of COVID-19 vaccines on a daily basis, at distribution and vaccination sites across the country. GHSC-TA also provides extensive support to sites on utilizing SVS COVID-19, including onboarding, training, and technical support to address possible challenges.

In addition to supporting the vaccine supply chain GHSC-TA provided technical assistance to enable health establishments and other organizations participate in the vaccination program. This included implementation of the process of issuing permits to vaccination sites. These permits are subject to compliance with the set of minimum standards developed by NDOH with technical assistance from GHSC-TA.

SA Taxi has established a vaccination site on their premises, which was primarily for minibus taxi participants. It was well received by taxi drivers and commuters alike and contributed to encouraging the public to vaccinate.

                                                                                  A vacinated woman giving a thumbs up at the SA Taxi Vaccination Site


GHSC-TA assisted SA Taxi with the required permits for the pop-up vaccination site and supported the supply and stock on hand to meet the sector's demand.

When reporting compliance at the vaccination site at the Midrand Occupational Health Clinic was adversely affected by technical challenges, GHSC-TA assisted SA Taxi to resume reporting on SVS COVID-19 which allowed for continued visibility of their stock holding to ensure that drivers receive their first and subsequent doses of COVID-19 vaccines. SA Taxi also received support with cold chain handling and addressing early challenges in the manual capturing of orders and aligning reporting administration of vaccines to members of medical aid schemes and those who use public health care services.

"We believe that by leveraging off this partnership, it was a great example of a successful private public working relationship". While the target was 24,000 vaccines, they reached 19,000, which is above 70 % of their target achieved.

Morreira is proud that collectively they achieved their purpose. "SA Taxi contributed to South Africa's call to achieve herd immunity, preventing ongoing transmission of Covid-19 and rebuilding our economy," she commented.

In addition to the taxi industry, other occupations including mineworkers and defense and police forces. Each industry presents an opportunity to tailor the process to ensure a seamless delivery to employees. Mobilizing all the provinces in this multi-sectoral campaign is required to increase vaccinations against COVID-19 among the key working population of South Africa.

Wandile Dyantjie is a taxi driver in South Africa and is part of the priority population identified for occupational health risk. She is at risk of COVID-19 due to the proximity to others that her job requires. Her business is people, and social distancing protocols have economically hampered her business. She has no time to join long queues in hospitals to get vaccinated as that would impede on how much money she can make for the day. Every hour counts. The innovation shown in communicating to her, and fellow drivers at the vaccination site at SA Taxi were really the difference between whether she was vaccinated or not. Now fully vaccinated she can focus on her business.