The Fund is set up to be action-orientated, agile, and responsive to changing circumstances – as such it can act quickly to provide funding as and when it is needed and, as important, act as an enabler, helping to orchestrate and support the partners in working together in a single national effort.
Vaccination Programme Role
The Fund is set up to be action-orientated, agile and responsive to changing circumstances – as such it can act quickly to provide funding as and when it is needed and, as important, act as an enabler, helping to orchestrate and support the partners in working together in a single national effort.
Under the Health pillar, the Fund was able to support the National Department of Health (NDoH) and the Vaccination Programme by catalysing the country’s entry into COVAX with the down payment of R283m needed to secure the country’s access to vaccines through this facility. From there, the Fund was able to quickly respond to provide R50m in funding in support of the roll-out of J&J vaccines through the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) implementation study, which enabled the kickstart the vaccination of front-line healthcare workers ahead of the third wave and winter. The Sisonke Study, meaning Together, was aimed at administering J&J sponsored vaccine trial doses to 500 000 frontline healthcare workers, and monitoring for any adverse effects.
The Fund has been able to offer further support to the NDoH’s national roll-out, both nationally and provincially, through a contribution to a larger initiative to provide capacitation technical support to the NDoH. A number of organisations have stepped up, at the request of the NDoH, to provide technical assistance and resourcing to aid in the roll-out process. The Fund will be providing funding of R69m toward the total requirement in a coordinated approach to support the national vaccine rollout task team with much-needed capacity (technical and human resource) to strengthen planning and coordination of the rollout at national and provincial levels. A national technical assistance and coordination team will be set up to support the NDoH with donor coordination, resource mobilization, coordinated planning and rapid human resource capacitation of the vaccination programme.
As the availability and administering of vaccinations increases, the need for additional vaccination sites to meet the demand and reach areas in metros that are under-capacity, is anticipated. To meet this potential need, the Fund has been approached by the NDoH regarding assistance with a donation of R300m to catalyse the establishment and funding for surge capacity vaccination sites in large metros across the country as and when needed during peak supply-demand months – expected to begin in August. The role of the Solidarity Fund is solely to supply the necessary funds as required. The NDOH will be accountable for the surge capacity vaccination sites, including the selection and appointment of Clinical Operators, site (venue) selection and performance monitoring and evaluation. The Department will also take the lead role in providing the requirements and framework through which these operational players are procured and contracted, as well as ensure adequate vaccine supply and demand.
The public’s ability to access accurate and reliable information about the vaccine and, register for the vaccine easily and efficiently, is essential to the successful roll-out of the National Vaccine Programme. Business Process Enabling South Africa (BPESA) approached the NdoH to assist, on a pro-bono basis, by setting up and managing a 200-seat call centre for 12 months. On acceptance of the offer, the NDoH approached the Solidarity Fund to provide R72 million in funding for the service provider of the call centre, which BPESA and NDoH would select, appoint and manage.
The centre, which opened on the 17th of May, integrates for the first time, 3 contact centres under the COVID-19 toll free hotline 0800 029 999. This enables citizens to call and be guided on vaccination registration and scheduling queries through the CCI Centre, to have all enquiries on health service matters associated with vaccinations answered through the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), and to receive specialist post-vaccination services. The call centre has quickly become an important hub for information and agents now have access to view the EVDS system and assist the public with queries regarding appointments.
Under the Fund’s Behavioural Change and Communication pillar, the Fund has provided R10m funding to support community/social partners – COVID Comms, C-19 People’s Coalition (C19 PC) and the Community Constituency COVID-19 Front (CCF) - that are represented at the National Communication Partnership, an initiative spearheaded by GCIS. The Funds will be used to augment the important work being done by community networks and communication research to track and measure the effectiveness of communication campaigns. Support of R2m has also been provided to the South African Council of Churches and religious faith networks.
Alongside the launch of the campaign, a digital toolkit with communication and marketing material has been made available. The toolkit, has been designed to support COVID-19 behaviour adherence, vaccine literacy, education and uptake.
On the 12th of May 2021, the Solidarity Fund launched a large-scale national communications campaign aimed at encouraging the maintenance of preventative behaviours, calling on over 60s to register on the EVDS system, spreading vaccination knowledge and literacy and listening and adapting to public perception.
The campaign is running on TV, with a 60’ spot, Radio, Out-of-home and social media. It includes Rank TV, Taxi TV, and 80 Wall Murals spread across the entire country and a TikTok campaign which is gaining great traction. Highly targeted campaign activations, involving Solidarity Fund Foot Soldiers and Behaviour Change Agents are taking place around the country. Encouraging, enabling and educating people about the vaccination registration journey, particularly post-registration, is essential to the success of the Vaccine Programme. The Fund has been doing extensive work in this area with foot soldiers working closely with the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) and the South African Council of Churches (SACC), setting up booths at churches, old age homes, etc.
The activations include engaging with community members about maintaining preventative behaviours and educating about vaccines, while also assisting with the vaccination registration process.