Area of Research

Southern Highlands


Objective: To increase COVID-19 vaccination uptake in regions of Tanzania lagging behind targets

Challenges: To identify gaps in campaign efforts and raise community awareness of the campaign

Solution: HJFMRI coordinator Dr. Hamada Shaban helped spearhead a baseline assessment of regional capabilities to identify and correct logistical vaccine distribution challenges. He also engaged community stakeholders to conduct outreach.

The U.S. Embassy in Tanzania recognized Dr. Hamada Shaban as a “Hero of the Fight Against COVID-19” for his contributions to the success of MHRP’s PEPFAR-funded vaccination campaign in the Southern Highlands region. 

Dr. Shaban is employed by HJFMRI in support of the Walter Reed Ary Institute of Research U.S. Military HIV Research Program (MHRP). With funding through the American Relief Plan Act, MHRP is working to address the impact of COVID-19 in supported councils in the Mbeya, Songwe, Rukwa and Katavi regions and 21 supported military facilities in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar.

MHRP’s COVID-19 response activities were implemented in regions of Tanzania where vaccination rates lagged behind targets. In collaboration with a regional council health management team, which included representatives from the Ministry of Health and Presidents Office Regional Administration and Local Government, a baseline assessment to identify the gaps and areas for improvement in vaccination efforts.

“The baseline helped us to task each region and council to come up the work plan and areas where they needed support,” said Dr. Shaban. “A majority had logistical challenges distributing COVID-19 vaccine from national, regional, and district centers to local facilities.”

Raising community awareness of coronavirus prevention and control measures was another main priority. The team engaged healthcare providers to work with local leaders to improve vaccination uptake through door-to-door visits, presence at community events and social functions, and outreach at churches, markets and other high-traffic locations.

Targets were set to vaccinate 75% of the adult population in the four Southern Highland regions. By the end of October, vaccination rates exceeded targets in three regions, and a total of more than 2.9 million clients receiving their COVID vaccination across all four regions.


Learn more about HJFMRI Focus Area: Global Health