Belgium has donated 153,900 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Uganda. The vaccines will contribute to stepping up the vaccination campaign for teachers and reopening schools to more than 10 million pupils and students. With this, Belgium is responding to the Ugandan government’s request to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
On August 2, the Ugandan government addressed an official request for assistance from the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to the Emergency Response Coordination Center (ERCC). The request for assistance consisted of administering the second dose of AstraZeneca to vaccinate the 162,026 teachers who received the first dose and 100,000 doses from Johnson & Johnson to vaccinate rural teachers for whom the logistics of vaccination will be facilitated with a single-dose vaccine.
The 153,900 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in Kampala on Wednesday, September 22. This vaccine donation is supported by the Embassy of Belgium in Kampala and Enabel – the Belgian Development Agency, in charge of logistics and coordination with the Ugandan authorities.
“Every child back to school. Everywhere in the world. That’s my goal. By vaccinating teachers we contribute to providing renewed access to education for as many children, youngsters and students in Uganda, as quickly as possible” emphasizes Minister of Development Cooperation, Meryame Kitir.”
According to Ugandan authorities, vaccinating priority groups such as teachers will help reopen schools for more than 10 million pupils and students. Uganda has experienced a new wave of COVID-19 in recent months, with a daily peak of 2,280 cases per day in June 2021 and a confirmed mortality spike in July (up to 40 per day). On September 17 it was noted that vaccination coverage remains very low overall: approximately 1,622,367 people (out of a population of approximately 45 million) received at least one dose of a vaccine. The availability of the COVID-19 vaccine in Uganda remains minimal and below the African average. To control the pandemic, the country has had to take drastic measures, resulting in the complete closure of schools for almost 18 months.
The impact on students (primary and secondary) has been particularly severe. Young people have not been to school for 18 months; distance learning is hardly possible due to the lack of equipment and internet connection.
In addition to this bilateral donation to Uganda, our country will redirect 4 million doses to third countries by the end of this year. Belgium is mainly using the COVAX mechanism for this purpose.
At the request of the Minister of Development Cooperation, Meryame Kitir, our country’s focus for the next deliveries will be on Africa and more specifically on our African partner countries, where access to vaccines is sorely lacking. Only 2% of Africa’s total population has been vaccinated. “We can be very proud of the high vaccination coverage in our country. But at the same time, I remain very concerned because many people in vulnerable countries do not have access to a vaccine. This virus has no borders. International solidarity and cooperation is the only way out of this health crisis. We will only be safe when everyone is safe,” said Minister Kitir.
To date, two million doses of vaccine have been allocated by Belgium for vaccine sharing. Almost one million doses have already been delivered to third countries, of which more than 70% are African countries.