IsraAID Launches COVID-19 Vaccine Program in Eswatini
09 March 2021. For immediate release:
Israeli humanitarian aid agency IsraAID has dispatched a specialist medical, logistical and psychosocial team to Eswatini at the invitation of the Government of Eswatini to support the country’s Ministry of Health in designing and implementing its national COVID-19 vaccination campaign. IsraAID’s initial assessment team arrived in the Southern African country yesterday, March 8th. IsraAID’s mission to Eswatini is supported by the Kirsh Foundation, founded by businessman and Eswatini citizen Nathan Kirsh.
This will serve as a pilot for the non-governmental organization, which will use models developed in Eswatini to inform further vaccination campaigns around the world through a new “Global Vaccine Access” initiative. IsraAID’s specialists will be joined in Eswatini by Prof. Michael Edelstein, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the Bar Ilan University Faculty of Medicine. Prof. Edelstein has extensive experience in building immunization programs and has been involved in COVID-19 response in the UK and Israel. IsraAID has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in 16 countries. The organization has longstanding expertise in the fields of public health, emergency medical care, and mental health capacity building. IsraAID will utilize the public health knowhow developed during Israel’s successful vaccination rollout to inform its planning in Eswatini.
Eswatini has been heavily hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed the lives of several senior members of government, including Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini, in recent months. The country, which borders South Africa and Mozambique, has the highest COVID-19 death rates in Africa and the highest HIV prevalence in the world. Nearly 40% of Eswatini’s population live on less than $1.90 per day. A crucial component of IsraAID’s work in Eswatini will focus on the mental health and resilience of the country’s frontline health workers as a key factor in implementing a holistic public health response and prioritizing the needs of local communities.
Yotam Polizer, IsraAID’s CEO, said:
“Vaccines are crucial to global efforts to end the pandemic, yet many countries across the Global South are struggling to access the vaccines they need to protect their populations. This is why we at IsraAID are proud to be partnering with the Ministry of Health of Eswatini and the Kirsh Foundation to support vaccine rollout across the country.
“During the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, I saw firsthand the importance of a holistic community-based approach to overcoming health crises, including trust-building and mental health support for medical workers alongside public health programs and medical care. We hope to use our experience to help the government of Eswatini build and implement a successful immunization program – and to expand our vaccination efforts to other countries in the near future through our Global Vaccine Access Initiative. COVID-19 will not be over for us, here, until it is over for everyone, everywhere.”
A selection of photographs are shared below for media use. Further updates and additional images from Eswatini are available upon request. Email [email protected] for more information. Any images used should be credited to IsraAID.
IsraAID is a leading international humanitarian non-governmental organization, based in Israel. Since 2001, IsraAID has become synonymous with a rapid response to humanitarian crises. Its medical teams, post-trauma experts, community specialists and other professionals have led international responses to disasters and civil strife around the world. After the initial emergency period, IsraAID shifts to long-term programs, accompanying communities and governments as they strive to build a better tomorrow. As of March 2021, IsraAID has responded to crises in 55 countries.