The distribution of vaccines to enough people to achieve herd immunity is the single biggest task the National Department of Health has ever faced. File image.
The distribution of vaccines to enough people to achieve herd immunity is the single biggest task the National Department of Health has ever faced. File image.

The corporate sector and civil society join forces to distribute Covid-19 vaccine

By Norman Cloete Time of article published Jun 5, 2021

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Johannesburg – Partnerships between the corporate sector and civil society are critical to avoid a further crisis at hospitals.

This is the word from experts, as South Africa enters the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The distribution of vaccines to enough people to achieve herd immunity is the single biggest task the National Department of Health (NDoH) has ever faced. The distribution of vaccines to enough people to achieve herd immunity is the single biggest task the National Department of Health (NDoH) has ever faced.

PinkDrive, with funding from Standard Bank embarked on a project to assist the NDoH to provide vaccines to the public and have set up vaccination sites in Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal.

To date, this partnership has vaccinated more than 3 100 people who have suffered no side effects since getting the jab.

The project aims to assist with the accelerated distribution of vaccines to communities with their mobile medical teams, employing previously ‘unemployed’ nurses and drivers. To reach the required rate for herd immunity, South Africa needs to vaccinate 300 000 people per day. To amplify the process, the NDoH will need to access resources from the private sector and civil society.

Professor Richard Cooke, Academic Head of the Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care at Wits university and Head of the J&J vaccine roll out and research programme, welcomed the participation of PinkDrive to distribute vaccines to frontline staff at community clinics.

“Intervention would minimize disruption due to medical staff having to be away for prolonged periods to receive the vaccine at centralized locations,” he said.

CEO of PinkDrive, Noelene Kotschan, said together with their partner, Standard Bank, they are committed to supporting the South African government’s efforts to vaccinate the country’s frontline health workers.

“Our medical staff are trained in the vaccination process and ready to step up to assist the NDoH in providing vaccines to the most vulnerable in the pandemic, the front line personnel. For more than ten years, PinkDrive has made the health of vulnerable South Africans their priority. The thought is simple: ‘Early detection will help prolong a life,” she said.

While the organisation’s historical role has been in cancer detection, in these times of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has broadened its mission to prevent the further spread of the virus.

“We mobilised all our resources and appealed to corporates, foreign embassies and philanthropic organisations to partner us by funding the initiative to support the NDoH at this critical time,” said Kotschan.

Standard Bank committed R1 million to support this programme and PinkDrive is awaiting word on another R1.5 million potential commitment.

The vaccination project is currently underway at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital with plans to allocate teams to Chiawelo Clinic, Itireleng Clinic and Ekhuruleni Clinic. In KwaZulu Natal, teams are working with the RK Khan Hospital at Nelson Mandela Youth Centre in Chatsworth. The Western Cape team started working on-site at Old Age Homes, this week.

Kotschan said the aim is to vaccinate 500 to 700 people per day, much as they hope this figure will rise as access to vaccines increases. Figures released by NDoH, this week, showed that SA’s Covid-19 vaccinations are inching toward one million jabs as the death toll climbs to 56 506.

The Saturday Star

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