BudgIt’s COVID-19 report exposes vaccine shortage, poor storage facilities

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Stakeholders launching the report

By Alhaji Haruna Sani

BudgIt Sierra Leone has  officially launched a comprehensive report on the management of the COVID-19 pandemic in Sierra Leone. The report, launched at the Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) on Fort Street in Freetown, brings to light critical issues such as vaccine governance, inequality, accountability, and the challenges faced in the vaccine distribution process.

The well-researched report delves into various aspects of COVID-19 management, shedding light on the shortcomings in Sierra Leone’s vaccination efforts. Among the key findings, the report highlights the shortage of requisite storage facilities for vaccines, pointing out that one out of 40 teams involved in the vaccination process is inactive due to the lack of Cold Chain facilities.

The report findings also reveal that the available vaccines are insufficient to meet the targeted vaccination coverage of 70% of Sierra Leone’s 8 million population. In response to the shortage, a surge in vaccination efforts was introduced, with plans to extend the surge to reach even more people.

During the launch event, Brima Sesay, the Acting Country Lead of BudgIt Sierra Leone, explained the organization’s core areas of operation, including budget access, natural resource governance, institutional support, and their technology tool, tracker, designed to monitor government projects and activities.

Daniel Conteh, the Research and  Programs Officer at BudgIt Sierra Leone, provided an in-depth analysis of the report. He emphasised that the research aimed to understand the experiences of the average Sierra Leonean concerning governance in health and its accountability and equity.

Conteh highlighted that the issue of inequity in vaccine distribution poses serious challenges. The research utilised a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods, engaging citizens’ groups, civil society members, and the government in conversations about COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

The report uncovered a hesitancy rate of 51.3%, indicating reluctance among some segments of the population to get vaccinated. Conteh further shared statistics, stating that from January 3, 2020, to September 27, 2022, Sierra Leone reported 7,751 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 125 deaths.

The findings of BudgIT’s report underscore the urgent need for comprehensive strategies to address vaccine shortages, improve storage facilities, and combat vaccine hesitancy.

As Sierra Leone grapples with the ongoing pandemic, these revelations serve as a call to action for both the government and international partners to strengthen the country’s healthcare system and ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines.

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