Citizen Reporter
Reporter
2 minute read
12 Jul 2021
4:03 pm

Vaccination sites: Eutelsat and Aspen give underserved communities much-needed boost

Citizen Reporter

The partnership will accelerate the vaccine drive in Mpumalanga's rural areas where internet connectivity is still unavailable to many.

Picture: Gallo Images/Brenton Geach

The underserved communities of Mpumalanga will see the capabilities of vaccination sites in the province boosted through an intervention of the private sector.

Internet access for vaccination sites

Eutelsat last week commenced with the rollout of much-needed high-speed broadband internet access at 13 vaccination centres in underserved areas of the province.

The joint initiative between Aspen Pharmaceuticals and Eutelsat will enable vaccination sites with satellite broadband connections. This will connect vaccination sites with the electronic vaccination system (EVDS).

It is expected to accelerate the vaccine drive in the province, specifically in rural areas where internet connectivity is still unavailable to many. Unfortunately, only 1.7% of rural households in Mpumalanga have access to the internet.

The rollout will act as “another arrow in the quiver of government to fight the Covid-19 pandemic”, explains Stavros Nicolaou, Aspen Senior Executive: Strategic Trade.

He said the partnership between Eutelsat and DoH will provide “a novel solution to health challenges using cutting edge technology” as it will eliminate costly trips to and from the urban-based vaccination centres

“Connecting rural vaccination centres will reduce the burden, freeing up much-needed public resources into other critical functions,” said Nicolaou.

South Africa’s vaccination rollout

The department of health confirmed in its latest vaccine report that nearly 200 000 vaccinations were administered daily. In addition, South Africans showed a “definite eagerness to register” for their jab, with more than 70% willing to take the vaccine.

The department said: “There’s a significant gap between intent and action – more want the vaccination than in practice are able to access it due to logistical and other barriers.”

“Some areas are doing well with vaccinations, e.g. Limpopo and uMgungundlovu. The key issues are leadership and working with trusted local organisations.”

At present, residents over the age of 50 are being vaccinated. Persons aged 35 to 49 will be able to register to be vaccinated from 15 July, with vaccinations for this age cohort to start from 1 August.