Accelerating Widespread, Equitable Delivery of COVID-19 Vaccinations in Malawi

{Photo credit Rejoice Phiri/MSH}Photo credit Rejoice Phiri/MSH

As Malawi endures a new wave of COVID-19, the MSH-led USAID Organized Network of Services for Everyone’s (ONSE) Health Activity continues to provide comprehensive support for the government’s response plan, working with district health teams and communities to mitigate the significant threat to Malawi’s vulnerable health system.

ONSE’s strong district footprint and engagement with the Ministry of Health and Population and other health sector partners enables a coordinated, locally led response in 16 districts, where more than half the population of Malawi lives. More than 1,200 ONSE-supported integrated family health and family planning outreach clinics have reached a quarter-million Malawians with essential health services during the crisis, and health facilities have limited the spread of COVID-19 by strengthened disease surveillance and infection prevention protocols.

The program’s current response to the pandemic accelerates widespread, equitable access to and delivery of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccinations through:

Coordination, planning, and monitoring: ONSE provides support to the government’s National COVID-19 Preparedness and Response plan and its operational field guide for COVID-19 vaccination, working with district health teams and community and faith leaders to develop and implement rapid response plans, vaccination training and supervision, and risk communication and vaccine sensitization activities. ONSE closes operational gaps, including covering costs and transport for vaccine delivery.

Risk communication and community engagement: Working with established community structures and local and faith-based leaders, ONSE integrates risk communication, vaccine sensitization, and community engagement through information, education, and counseling activities. Over 1,200 local leaders, including religious and village leaders within communities and political, business, and education representatives in urban cities, have been sensitized to counter negative myths and misperceptions and to promote the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines.

Building the capacity of local response teams: ONSE bolsters the health workforce’s capacity to implement proper vaccination procedures and infection prevention and control measures by ongoing supportive supervision and mentoring activities. The program has trained and supervised nearly 1,000 district health workers on COVID-19 vaccine procedures, extending vaccine administration beyond health facilities to remote health posts, shopping malls, and markets to reach people where they are. 

As USAID’s flagship program for health service delivery in Malawi, the ONSE team is leveraging experience gained under the rapid response support delivered during the initial phases of the pandemic as well as its routine support to increase the country’s health system capacity and resilience.

Related: Keys to Malawi’s COVID-19 Vaccination Success