Government of Djibouti and the EU-IGAD COVID-19 Response programme extend COVID-19 vaccination drive to commercial truck drivers

The Government of Djibouti through the Ministry of Health and the EU-IGAD Covid-19 Response Programme kicked off a vaccination drive targeting truck drivers along the Djibouti-Ethiopia trade corridor. As of November 2022, the daily vaccination rate is approximately 200 truck drivers with over 3,500 drivers vaccinated so far since its kick-off in September 2022.

The vaccination exercise is implemented by TradeMark Africa as part of the EU-funded programme launched in 2020 to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the COVID 19 in the IGAD region.

The programme aims to administer the Johnson and Johnson vaccine to at least 10,000 truck drivers using the Djibouti & Tadjourah corridors. It also seeks to encourage positive behaviour change for the adoption of preventative health measures aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19. A vaccination point has been set up at Point Kilometer 12 (PK-12), a major truck holding area in the outskirts of Djibouti City. Building on the success of the first vaccination point, the initiative is being extended to the Port of Tadjourah targeting truck drivers using the Balho border. The vaccination will run continuously until  31st December 2022.

Dr. Omar Ismael, the Ministry of Health – National Vaccination Coordinator reiterated the Government’s position on the importance of vaccination against COVID-19 saying it is a priority public health and national safety agenda.

Ms. Erika Conti, the Project Manager at the EU Delegation to Djibouti and IGAD  said, “This represents a concrete example of how pooling together different partners for a common objective can be successful to make trade zones safer. The EU is glad to support such initiatives with tangible impacts for the drivers, the population and local economies”. The economies of both Djibouti and Ethiopia are dependent on the logistics industry especially truck drivers to deliver critical goods such as fuel, food, fertilisers, medicines and other consumables that are essential livelihoods of their populations.

Ms Rosella Monti, Project Manager for EU-IGAD COVID-19 Response programme from UNOPS said, “Within the EU-IGAD COVID-19 Response programme, we have the ambition to enhance the health resilience of every person and to create a functional system that efficiently responds to health emergencies. That is why we want to replicate the  successful TMA-MoH-IGAD story of the vaccination centre in Djibouti in other cross border areas. The goal is to reach every driver plying the main Djibouti-Addis trade corridor route and communities living along these areas. This intervention will significantly strengthen the longer-term safety of the supply chain in the IGAD Region”

Dr. Girum Hailu from the IGAD Secretariat added that the vaccination of truck drivers at the trade corridors between Ethiopia and Djibouti helps ensure the safety of the trade zone and protection of the people along the corridor and destination cities.

The vaccination drive will not only support safe trade along the Djibouti Corridor and prevent the need for stringent lock-down measures that could negatively impact trade activity, but also contribute to the general health and social wellbeing of Djiboutians and Ethiopians along the Djibouti Corridor.

“Increased uptake of the vaccine by truck drivers will ensure safe continuity of trade along the corridor. As we roll this out, we recognise and appreciate ongoing efforts by different partners to ensure accessibility to the larger population. This will greatly alleviate the effects and disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic on cross border trade as well as transport & logistics supply chains” noted Sjoerd Visser, Country Director, TMA Djibouti.

The vaccination drive is part of the EU-IGAD COVID-19 Response programme. The programme is funded by the EU, managed by UNOPS, coordinated by IGAD and implemented by TMA, IOM, UNICEF and UNOPS. The programme’s safe trade component is working to ensure regional economies continue trade in a safe way, while curbing cross-border infections.

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