•The focus of the vaccines plan will be on the cross border mobile populations, frontline healthcare workers, truck drivers and the refugees to ensure their access to the vaccines.
•The IGAD secretariat has also provided Sh10 million to the government of Kenya’s National Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund with a similar amount also given to the other IGAD member states.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development is currently developing a regional response plan for Covid-19 vaccine that targets vulnerable individuals.
A group of technical experts within the IGAD secretariat have put the plan together and forwarded it for discussion by member governments to ensure it meets the technical specifications.
The main objective of the plan is to increase access to Covid-19 vaccines and reduce the barriers that are likely to hamper their access.
The focus of the vaccines plan will be on the cross-border mobile populations, frontline healthcare workers, truck drivers and the refugees to ensure their access to the vaccines.
IGAD Head of Mission to Kenya Fatuma Adan said the secretariat would like to encourage member governments to work together under this Covid-19 response plan as no country is safe until all countries are safe.
“IGAD has a specific role in supporting the populations that live at the border areas, and this response is focused specifically to those who are vulnerable, mobile, refugees and the IDPs,” she said.
So far, Igad has been able to support Moyale with personal protective equipment worth Sh2.5 million and Sh3 million to the Dadaab border.
The IGAD secretariat has also provided Sh10 million to the government of Kenya’s National Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund with a similar amount also given to the other IGAD member states.
“The support we have given to border counties through the government of Kenya is an emergency response and is a bigger and broader agenda of strengthening our health systems,” Adan said.
IGAD has continued to support national and regional interventions, especially among cross-border mobile populations that include traders, truckers, nomadic pastoralists and refugees.
“We do want to bring to your attention that the region is affected by a triple burden. We do have the locust infestation, we have floods, we have also experienced droughts, and the Covid-19 infection has worsened it, and therefore we need concerted efforts.”
According to UNDP, the impact of the virus on the socio-economic activities in the country will expose the already vulnerable and marginalised communities to more suffering.
The UN agency said that safeguarding these regions against the impact of Covid-19 and ensuring that the recent development gains are not reversed is critical, adding that frontier counties of the Northern region have for a long time been economically marginalised, suffered fragility, instability, poverty and insecurity.
The country is expected to receive 24 million doses of the vaccine under the Covax facility, enough to cover just 20 per cent of the population, with plans to procure additional 11 million doses from other mechanisms.
The Ministry of Health confirmed that the doses will cost Kenya a total of Sh10 billion.
The government has planned to reach at least 1.25 million Kenyans between February and June this year.
During this period, frontline healthcare workers and all staff working in health facilities and workers offering essential services are to be inoculated with priority sectors such as security given priority.
Edited by Kiilu Damaris