One dose at a time: The fight against the pandemic in Mauritania

Tuesday morning in the outskirts of Nouakchott, the waiting area of the Teyarett vaccination center is bustling with activity due to the large number of individuals who came to receive their vaccinations. A consistent number of women and men from a wide variety of backgrounds made their way here to get vaccinated. Medical professionals such as physicians and nurses examined the patient’s vital signs, input the data, delivered the doses, and issued immunization certificates.

“I have come here to do my duty today as a citizen and to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for protecting myself, my family, and the community where I live,” said El Ghalya Ally, a 43-year-old woman who was smiling with happiness.

When it comes to promoting vaccination against COVID-19, Mauritania has been one of the most proactive countries in Africa. Today, almost forty percent of the adult population has received all of their recommended vaccinations.

So, what were the most important factors that led to the successful rollout of the vaccination in Mauritania?

1. An engaging and meticulously prepared launch

The West African country successfully implemented a dynamic vaccination program, which required the nation to adjust to the many types of vaccines supplied in a variety of batches and with varying expiration dates.

2. A mobile program to reach out to the nomad community in the desert, especially refugees the remotest regions of the country

The difficulties and the logistics surrounding the rollout of the initiative were enormous due to the wide stretches of the pastoral area and the fact that 90 percent of the region is located in the Sahara Desert. As a result, the government made the decision to implement a mobile approach that would target some of the most isolated populations and make use of the single dosage vaccination manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. In order to underline the significance of vaccination in the struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic, this required a significant mobilization effort on the part of national media outlets, influential religious figures, and youth organizations.

3. A digital registry that can deliver accurate data and valid immunization certificates in a timely manner

“What’s different about this vaccine program is the electronic registry,” said the Minister of Health of Mauritania, Sidi Ould Zaha. It is incredibly significant because it provides us with data in real-time that tells us what the coverage rate is and what kinds of folks are getting vaccinated against what. Additionally, it enables us to distribute immunization permits to anyone who is interested in traveling.

The World Bank is an important partner in Mauritania, assisting the government in its efforts to fund the Covid-19 response and to rebuild more effectively. As part of the response to the health crisis, the World Bank is assisting the government and other partners, including AVAT, COVAX, and UNICEF, in improving health and acquiring and deploying vaccines. This is being done as part of the health response. To help with the response to the national health crisis, well over $47 million has already been collected. In a rush to make their community safe from the virus, nurses and medical personnel are combating the pandemic one jab at a time at health centers like the Teyarett health facility and around the country.