Satellite communications operator Eutelsat Communications has partnered with pharmaceutical company Aspen Pharmacare to provide high-speed broadband Internet access to 13 Covid-19 vaccination centres in Mpumalanga.
The socioeconomic development partnership, which is cofounded by the two companies, will see Eutelsat’s Konnect satellite broadband connecting the Department of Health’s (DoH’s) electronic vaccination data system (EVDS) which preregisters, admits and discharges vaccination clients at the vaccination centres.
The move will assist the Mpumalanga DoH’s Covid-19 vaccination drive across its predominantly-rural municipalities.
Konnect’s ubiquitous coverage of South Africa helps extend the EVDS-enabled vaccine rollout to rural-resident senior citizens and people living with comorbidities, eliminating arduous and costly trips, often up to 50 km, to and from the urban-based vaccination centres.
About 70% of the Mpumalanga’s 4.4-million people live in underprivileged and underserved communities and only 1.7% of the region’s rural households have access to the Internet.
“This initiative presents another arrow in the quiver of Government to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and to assist in saving lives. The initiative is highly consistent with Aspen’s ongoing commitment to supporting local efforts that mitigate the impact of the pandemic and assist in ensuring safe and sustainable communities,” said Aspen strategic trade senior executive Stavros Nicolaou.
“Through this partnership with DoH and Eutelsat, we are bringing a novel solution to health challenges using cutting edge technology. Connecting rural vaccination centres will reduce the burden, freeing up much-needed public resources into other critical functions.”
“The success of South Africa against the pandemic is our own success. We are honoured to play a modest role by leveraging our company’s global satellite resources and reach to enhance the rural penetration of the vaccination programme,” added Eutelsat deputy CEO Michel Azibert.
Azibert was part of French President Emmanuel Macron’s delegation during a recent State visit to South Africa aimed at further strengthening cooperation between the two countries.