The Rockefeller Foundation and PATH announced the Digital Results Improve Vaccine Equity and Demand (DRIVE Demand) project, a two-year, US$5 million partnership with PATH’s Digital Square initiative to deploy and expand the use of digital health tools in Jamaica, Mali, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, and Zambia. Through DRIVE Demand, the partners aim to help ministries of health utilize digital technologies to understand, track, and influence demand for immunizations. Ultimately, it will support target countries’ effort to reach national Covid-19 and routine immunization targets, while strengthening data-driven health systems in Asia, the Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has been one of the most significant global health events in recent history – but it won’t be the last,” said Greg Kuzmak, Director of Digital Health Initiatives for The Rockefeller Foundation. “The global community needs to move quickly to prepare for the next threat. Our partners at Digital Square are helping build stronger, more agile health systems that can rise to the challenge.”
The six focus countries were chosen based on an evaluation of their responses to Covid-19, including: vaccine demand; vaccination rates (both low and high); use of existing open source global good digital health platforms or systems; and intersection with The Rockefeller Foundation’s Vaccination Access Network (VAN). The results of this evaluation led to a country-by-country approach to activity generation, which was created with government leaders to ensure that the program aligned with government priorities and responded to individual country needs.
In Zambia, for example, planned DRIVE Demand activities will center on adapting the Zambia Electronic Immunization Registry (ZEIR) by incorporating a new Covid-19 module and expanding its coverage from 22% to at least 60% of on-site, health-care-worker led facilities in Lusaka. An enhanced and expanded ZEIR would enable more informed decision-making and targeted communications interventions to help increase Covid-19 vaccination coverage while simultaneously tracking routine vaccinations.
“Vaccinations are vital for recovering from this pandemic, preventing the next, and ensuring children are protected from everyday threats,” said Constance Sakala Banda, Acting Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) Officer with Zambia’s Ministry of Health. “We are glad to partner with Digital Square at PATH and The Rockefeller Foundation to strengthen our immunization platforms and drive demand for these lifesaving immunizations.”
In addition to supporting Covid-19 vaccination efforts, the DRIVE Demand project will also guide partners through the process of digitizing existing health record systems and integrating software while applying learnings from Covid-era innovations to routine immunizations and future pandemic preparedness.
“At the start of the pandemic, health leaders around the world reached for digital tools to track the disease and rapidly respond,” said Zahra Lutfeali, Managing Director of Digital Square at PATH. “Now that vaccines are available, ministries of health can streamline or upgrade those tools to help identify groups with limited access to or information on immunizations and decide how best to reach them. DRIVE Demand will put specific, actionable data at decision-makers’ fingertips so they can maximize health resources and help ensure all groups are protected.”
The funding for DRIVE Demand is part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Global Vaccination Initiative (GVI), a two-year, $55 million effort launched in April 2022 to support country-led Covid-19 immunization campaigns in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.