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MBABANE - Once again, the Kirsh Foundation has come to the assistance of Eswatini.

On Monday, Israeli humanitarian aid agency IsraAID 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 country on Monday and their mission to Eswatini is supported by the Kirsh Foundation, founded by businessman and Eswatini citizen Nathan Kirsh, according to a press statement from IsraAID and  George Lys of the Kirsh Foundation.  


He said this would serve as a pilot project for the non-governmental organisation, 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 immunisation programmes and has been involved in COVID-19 response in the UK and Israel,” reads the press statement. It was reported that IsraAID had responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in 16 countries. The organisation has longstanding expertise in the fields of public health, emergency medical care, and mental health capacity building.

It was reported that the organisation would utilise the public health know-how 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,” he said.  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 prioritising 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.”


He said that was why IsraAID was proud to be partnering with the Ministry of Health of Eswatini and the Kirsh Foundation to support vaccine rollout across the country. He said during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, he 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 programmes and medical care. “We hope to use our experience to help the government of Eswatini build and implement a successful immunisation programme – 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.” Meanwhile, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Simon Zwane, said they hoped to make a formal communication today.

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