Parked up in the Kasarani district of the Kenyan capital Nairobi is a group of health workers who on a mission to drive up COVID-19 vaccinations.
According to the World Health Organization, the overall trend of the virus on the African continent is down, but it is still not completely contained.
WHO figures report that as of 6 April 2022, there were 11.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 252 000 deaths reported on the continent.
So far the country has administered 18,535,975 vaccine doses, but encouraging everyone to get jabbed is a challenge.
AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation) is taking the battle to the streets, with a mobile clinic hoping to increase the number of people getting immunized.
The mobile clinic is able to reach densely populated areas as well as more rural populations while maintaining the need for cold storage of vaccines like AstraZeneca and Moderna.
Cold storage in the field has proven difficult in the hot and humid climate of some African countries, but according to AMREF’s Dr Catherine Kanari, this unit has a solar-powered system that is helping to overcome that obstacle.
“So in general this is a mobile vaccination unit which then means we are going to the people. If the people are unable to go get the vaccines at health facilities we are coming to the people. We want to increase our population coverage for vaccination, looking at what has been recommended by WHO at the 70% achievement for vaccination. So this particular unit has utilized innovation. It can be able to go deeper into the communities where access is a problem so not only in Nairobi but even in other counties where we have issues with access and also because it utilizes solar (energy) to maintain the cold chain. It is an efficient way of ensuring that we have effective vaccines,” says Kanari.
Businesswoman Seradelphine Wairimu says she has wanted to get the vaccine because she knows so many people who’ve been sick with the virus.
But Wairimu says until now she just hasn’t had the time to visit a hospital.
She says: “This is the first vaccine I have never received it before. I have been doing some research and many people have passed away, even my closest friends and relatives, and I have seen that I will endanger the lives of my fellow Kenyans and even neighbors if I do not get the vaccine. I am very happy because as a business lady I never have enough time. I have been hearing that people are getting vaccinated in hospitals that are far (away) from where I am. I used to wonder what I am going to do about the hospital, but now that they have come near me to where I work, I have decided to take this step.”
This is the first COVID-19 mobile clinic in Kenya, but there are plans to introduce 10 more which will serve several different counties.
The success of this program could help to change and improve the way health care, in general, is delivered across the country and possibly the region as a whole.
Another resident William Mbuthia says he has now had his first dose of the vaccine and he would encourage others to do the same.
“Today is my first time receiving the vaccine. When it first came everyone had something negative to say, when you get the vaccine you develop complications. But I decided I must receive my first jab today here in Mwiki and I am very happy. I would like to urge fellow Kenyans to make sure that they get this vaccine.”