This morning, in the suburbs of Nouakchott, the waiting room of the Teyarett vaccination center is buzzing with people. A steady stream of women and men from all walks of life are coming to get vaccinated. Doctors and nurses check their vitals, enter the data, administer the doses, and issue the vaccination certificates.
“I came here today to do my civic duty and to take the COVID-19 vaccine to protect myself, my family, and my community,” said El Ghalya Ally, 43 years old woman beaming with a smile.
Mauritania has been one of the leading countries in Africa in championing COVID-19 vaccination. Today, more than 40% of the adult population is fully vaccinated.
So, what were the key drivers for the success of Mauritania’s vaccine roll-out?
1. A dynamic and well-planned rollout
The West African nation was successful in rolling out a dynamic vaccination campaign, adapting to the different types of vaccines received in different batches and with different expiration dates.
2. A mobile strategy to reach the nomad population in the desert, including refugees in some of the most farfetched parts of the country
With vast expanses of pastoral land and 90% of its territory situated in the Sahara Desert, the challenges and the logistics around the campaign’s rollout were immense. Therefore, the government decided to launch a mobile strategy targeting some of the most remote populations and using the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This involved a strong mobilization of national media, religious leaders, and youth associations to emphasize the importance of vaccination in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. An electronic registry to provide timely data and vaccination certificates
According to Mauritania health minister Sidi Ould Zahaf: “What's new about this vaccination campaign is the electronic registry. It's something very important because it gives us real-time data that allows us to know what the coverage rate is, what kind of populations are being vaccinated. Also, it allows us to issue vaccination passes to people who wish to travel”.
In Mauritania, the World Bank is a key partner helping the government to finance the Covid-19 response and build back better. As part of the health response, the World Bank is working with the government and partners, including AVAT, COVAX, and the UNICEF, in strengthening health systems, as well as vaccine acquisition and deployment. More than $47 million has been mobilized to support the national health response. At the Teyarett health center and across the country, nurses and medical staff are fighting the pandemic one jab at a time in a race to make their community safe.