The state of emergency associated with the pandemic may be over, but COVID-19 is here to stay. Between 2020 and early 2021, we saw the harshest impact of COVID-19, with millions of people acquiring COVID-19 despite our use of tools such as social distancing, lockdowns, masking and sanitising. Millions died due to COVID-19 complications and limited therapeutic interventions.
In 2023, many developed countries who had reached over 70% vaccination coverage called for the end of the pandemic and were rewarded with a declaration in May 2023 by the head of WHO of the end to COVID-19 as a public health emergency. However, he also stressed that the declaration does not mean the disease is no longer a global threat; the continuous evolution of COVID-19 reduces the protection offered by current vaccines against infection and mild disease and there are ongoing concerns that COVID-19 and its variants will continue to evolve, with the latest sub-variants causing a rise in infections globally as recently as November 2022.
While developed countries are better equipped to manage COVID-19 without the need for states of emergency or strict lockdowns, this is not the case for everyone and certainly not for Africa. The true end of the pandemic can only happen if there is equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatment in all countries globally.
The People’s Vaccine Alliance (PVA) Africa is part of a global movement of organisations and networks supported by Nobel Laureates, Heads of State, health experts, economists, world leaders, faith leaders and activists working together to ensure Africans everywhere have equitable access to vaccines.
Ports2Arms is a public health accountability mechanism that uses a Community-Led Monitoring (CLM) approach to monitor and document barriers and enablers on the ground to COVID-19 vaccine, testing, and treatment access and uptake. Hence, we are better prepared for and able to respond to future pandemics.
The African Alliance conducts primary research in collaboration with local and regional partners to ensure that the voices of underserved communities are represented. This includes primary research to solicit opinions and experiences of communities, tracking service delivery – both quality and reach, to better understand attitudes and blockers related to the rollout of services and realisation of rights.
We then work to translate research, policy and other technical information to make it more accessible to communities in terms of content and format to support informed decision making, community mobilisation and activism for local accountability. We use creative methods to deliver such information to communities in formats that are appropriate to their context, including the use of social media and other mass communication strategies through direct engagements, awareness raising and training.
The Vaccine Advocacy Resource Group and the African Alliance, in partnership with the Community Constituency COVID-19 Front, the Treatment Action Campaign, and APHA bring you COVID-19 Conversations: The Webinar Series. These conversations sought to ensure that civil society is kept up to date on the latest COVID-19 research, strengthen the culture of accountability between researchers and civil society and contribute to shared learning and unlearning in the research sector as it relates to COVID-19.