It has been almost three years and half since COVID-19 emerged in Rwanda.
Sensitizations on preventive measures including proper wearing of face masks, washing hands frequently and respecting social distancing were among major activities put in place to contain its spread.
Rwanda also expended much effort to roll out vaccines across the country with the initial target of covering 60% of its population by 2022.
The vaccination campaign has yielded good results considering the current situation in Rwanda. Today, 69% of the population has received the first dose of COVID-19, 65% have received the second dose while 355 are recipients of the third dose.
The numbers have had a significant impact where the positivity rate has sharply dropped leading to ease in some preventive measures for people to resume businesses as usual.
It is against this background that The Coca-Cola Foundation took a giant stride to provide funding to different African countries to strengthen response to COVID-19.
In Rwanda, the project implemented by Rwanda Red Cross is the second of its kind rolled out by The Coca-Cola Foundation through collaboration with the government.
The first project saw The Coca-Cola Foundation donating Rwf150 million in 2020 allocated for the provision of protective equipment to frontline workers helping the country to fight the pandemic. These include volunteers and other frontline workers helping communities.
The latest donation will be allocated to sensitizations and facilitating the extension of home-based vaccination services across the country.
Aline Pascale Batamuliza, Corporate Affairs and Communication Manager at Bralirwa which represented The Coca-Cola Foundation at the event said that efficient use of the previous donation inspired the foundation to continue supporting the cause given that the pandemic has not yet been defeated.
“The first donation was utilized efficiently to serve the right purpose which inspired the donor to launch its second phase. The pandemic is still there and vaccination efforts are ongoing. We are convinced that we cannot be left behind supporting the cause and have to continue walking together along this journey,” she said.
Fred Tumwebaze, the Head of Emergency Response and Recovery, Programmes at Rwanda Red Cross has said that more emphasis will be drawn to sensitizations and helping people unable to reach vaccination sites.
“We have been doing such activities and have enough experience. The strength of Red Cross is rooted on volunteers from country level to village levels. We have fought COVID-19 through different approaches by sensitizing people on preventive measures and donating materials among others,” he noted.
“We will identify areas of gaps in collaboration with the Ministry of Health because we have a toll free line. Those unable to reach vaccination sites can contact us for assistance. We will have vehicles to pick and take them to the sites to receive vaccine doses,” added Tumwebaze.
It is apparent that much effort has been expended to roll out the vaccination campaign.
However, the Director of Vaccination Programme Unit at Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC), Hassan Sibomana has revealed that there are still challenges as some people have not yet understood the relevance of getting fully vaccinated.
“Even though we have covered 65% with a target to reach 70%, there are people who are still reluctant to this vaccination programme. We still have people who have not received the second and booster doses. This is a good opportunity to remind them of their responsibility to get fully vaccinated if we are to completely defeat COVID-19,” he noted.
Dubbed “Stop the Spread”, the project funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation will cover more than 10 districts and is expected to reach 225,000 beneficiaries across Rwanda.
Bralirwa has been manufacturing soft and alcoholic drinks in Rwanda since 1957.
It was licensed to produce and sell Coca-Cola soft drinks since 1974 up to date.
The Coca-Cola Foundation is the global philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Company.
Since its inception in 1984, the Foundation has awarded more than US$1.2 billion in grants to support sustainable community initiatives from water to women’s empowerment, from community recycling to wellbeing around the world.