Public-private partnership to mitigate COVID crisisThursday, August 26, 2021
If ever there was need for public-private partnerships for a national good, it is now. Despite Herculean efforts by the Government and the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) to manage our COVID-19 crisis we are falling short, particularly as it regards vaccination penetration.
In the space of 10 days Jamaica has tripled its offerings of COVID-19 vaccines to the citizenry, a feat worthy of great commendation. The excellent timing of one brand of the vaccines, now in the local arsenal, being granted full approval by the Food and Drug Administration by the third day of its availability in Jamaica is, as we would say, brawta!
With the possibility of a national vaccination mandate off the table, and rightly so, the full weight of moral suasion and ease of accessibility have to take centre stage in the push for the achievement of herd immunity by the MOHW's September 2022 target. Allow me to make three recommendations to enhance the strategic road map for promoting vaccine penetration and reducing logistical challenges as experienced during recent vaccination blitzes.
First, more State agencies should be recruited. There are reportedly 200 State boards/agencies that act on behalf of the Government of Jamaica. These bodies have significant reach, influence, and resources which can be used, in concert with the MOHW, to facilitate and coordinate more strategic vaccination opportunities for the respective industries they are tasked with regulating. The vaccines are free to the public and the State agencies would be using State resources to seek to introduce more efficiencies in the process.
Second, the private sector should play its part. Each industry should design their sustainability plans, relying on the significant risk mitigation expertise they employ, including how each industry will strive for herd immunity within its own ranks. A model that combines the resources and expertise of each industry, the MOHW, and the relevant regulatory agency surely must lend some reach to the efficiency of the roadmap.
The emerging public declarations of vaccine status and facilitation by some industry leaders is a welcome start and should be applauded and replicated.
Third, the Government needs to simplify the message. Children are now in the mix. They are eager to be physically back at school. More than ever, and perhaps as a direct result of being online all the time, they have unlimited and unfiltered access to information on all sides of the COVID-19 conversation. Consequently, they have real and relevant concerns, which are embodied in minds that are still developing the ability to digest the scientific information driving decision-making. Communication on COVID-19 must now have more simplified content to better reach Generation Z and so, while many appreciate the detailed graphs at press conferences, consideration should be given to pairing them with simple graphics which communicate at a basic level.
The numbers speak for themselves — less than 15 per cent of our population is vaccinated, nearly 100 per cent of COVID-19 beds are filled, and close to 200,000 doses of vaccines are on the Rock waiting for willing arms.
Sometimes Mohammed has to go the mountain. Since we know that vaccination is a proven tool in the fight to save lives lets partner to bring efficiencies to the journey.