The Orange Foundation is providing an additional €1.3 million in financial aid to the 17 countries in Africa and the Middle East to help fight the COVID-19 epidemic.

The funds will be used to support national efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible and to help combat the health crisis and its effects.

Last week, the African Union’s disease control body and World Health Organisation urged African countries not to waste COVID-19 vaccines donated to them, after confusion in Malawi and South Sudan about whether doses they received had expired.

Many African countries, already facing a shortage of affordable vaccines, are being stunned by the unprecedented scale of the distribution challenge when doses do arrive.

Orange Middle East and Africa, CEO Alioune Ndiaye says: “To take on the health crisis in Africa and the Middle East, each of our 17 countries will use this aid to supplement projects that have already been launched locally in collaboration with the country’s health authorities.”

“In addition to providing protection kits (masks, sanitizer, gloves, goggles, coveralls, etc.) and medical equipment and taking urgent action alongside NGOs, we are proud to facilitate access to the COVID-19 vaccine which is a huge challenge for African countries.”

The video below is on the investigation into the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine:

Meanwhile, the Ghanaian national plan showed how even relatively prosperous African nations lack vital equipment.

Money is needed across the board, including $1.5 million for 11 walk-in cold rooms and over 650 fridges to keep vaccines at between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius.

About $25 million is needed for supplies and waste management, including 33 600 boxes of face masks, 240 000 bottles of hand sanitizer, and nearly 55 000 rolls of cotton wool, the plan says. About $21 million is needed to train over 171 000 health workers and volunteers.

To add to Ghana’s challenge, its next COVAX shipments, expected in April and May, have been delayed until June, because India suspended major exports of vaccines manufactured there.

In its 2021 budget, outlined in mid-March, the Ghanaian government allotted 929 296 610 cedis ($160 million) for vaccine acquisition and deployment.

Amponsa-Achiano said, though, it was not clear how much would go towards distribution, or when the funds would materialise.-Additional reporting by Reuters