Clerics back Covid jabs as govt fights misinformation

Wednesday July 28 2021
cleric pic

President Samia Suluhu Hassan meets Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) director John Nkengasong at State House in Dar es Salaam yesterday. PHOTO/ STATE HOUSE

By Gadiosa Lamtey

Dar es Salaam. Religious leaders said yesterday that they were ready to receive the Covid-19 jab but asked the government to furnish them with appropriate scientific information on them.

Grouped under the umbrella of Interfaith Standing Committee Economic Justice and Integrity of Creation, Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC), Christian Council of Tanzania (CCT) and National Muslims Council of Tanzania (Bakwata), said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that if they get appropriate information, they would be in a position to educate their followers what to do and help to eliminate misunderstandings in the society.

They said yesterday that following widespread of misinformation fears about vaccinations, thus there was a pressing need for experts to educate Tanzanians thoroughly.

According to the chairman for the Interfaith Standing Committee Economic Justice and Integrity of Creation Bishop Nelson Kisare, leaders’ main goal was to improve public health, saying understanding it will make it easier for them to send the knowledge to their believers.

Yesterday’s meeting came just days after a total of 1,058,400 doses of the Janssen vaccine donated by the United States arrived in the country under the Covax arrangement.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan is expected to launch the mass vaccination today (Wednesday) whereby she will personally receive the jab.

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Also present at yesterday’s meeting were officials from World Health Organization (WHO) and Health Ministry.

Speaking at the meeting, Temeke District Commissioner Jokate Mwegelo said leaders in her area have already started educating the residents on the subject matter. She urged religious leaders to help the government in the matter.

She noted that clerics provided a useful bridge with the citizens, adding that it was important that everyone should be protected against the killer disease.

“The struggle is difficult and there is a lot of uncertainty about vaccinations so let’s work together to save people’s lives,” she said.

The one-day conference aimed at educating religious leaders so they could come up with a common statement that will be in line with the on the matter.

Co-chairman Sheikh Khamis Mataka said they will educated believers about the vaccine and take all measures to prevent Covid-19 spread.

WHO representative Neema Kileo admitted yesterday that there were indeed a lot of misinformation about Covid-19 and that even the organization has been looking for a better way to present credible information to the public.

He said the vaccines had been approved for use despite misinformation on their efficacy.

The co-chairperson of the clerics group, Dr Charles Kitima, advised the WHO and Health ministry to learn from experience from other countries on how to effectively embark on the vaccination exercise.

“If you look at the great success of vaccines in countries like the US, the disease is left to those who are not vaccinated so there is also a need to learn from others,” he said.


Africa CDC satisfied

Meanwhile, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), yesterday expressed its satisfaction on the way the government was handling the Covid-19 pandemic, saying it was in full support of the ongoing vaccinations.

CDC director John Nkengasong said this in Dar es Salaam yesterday when he held talks with President Samia Suluhu Hassan at State House.

A statement, signed by the director for Presidential communications, Mr Jaffar Haniu, said yesterday that Africa CDC has established an initiative dubbed ‘Trusted Travel’ in an effort to ensure that Africans were able to travel within and outside the continent without restrictions brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Africa CDC is also willing to work with Tanzania in building the capacity of the country’s laboratories to strengthen the testing process of various coronavirus variants as well as on creating public awareness regarding preventive measures for the disease.

Through a special forum, Africa CDC will also buy all of Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine requirements.

In her remarks, President Hassan said she was happy that Africa CDC has come to witness efforts that Tanzania was taking in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, noting that the country had already set up a national team of experts that was coordinating all issues pertaining to the disease and that they (the experts) would easily work with their Africa CDC counterparts.

The President told Dr Nkengasong that Tanzania was ready to work with Africa CDC in efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus.


Ignore misinformation

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa urged Tanzanians yesterday to ignore misinformed individuals who were bent on spreading misinformation regarding the Covid-19 vaccination agenda.

“No one will be vaccinated by force. At no point did we say that every citizen must be vaccinated. People will be inoculated on a voluntary basis. Let’s avoid spreading misinformation because there is no government that can design a project that is meant to destroy its own people,” he said.

Mr Majaliwa was speaking during a public rally at Nandagala Village, Ruangwa District in Lindi Region yesterday.

In line with the government’s guidelines to combat the virus, Mr Majaliwa reminded Tanzanians to cultivate a habit of washing their hands with soap and running water, sanitizing their hands and putting on face masks while observing social distancing.

Mr Majaliwa’s statement comes just a day after cleric-cum-politician Josephat Gwajima castigated the Covid-19 vaccines in a statement that was widely condemned by people across different forums.

Addressing worshipers in Dar es Salaam at his Glory of Christ Tanzania Church on Sunday, Mr Gwajima spoke ‘carelessly’, claiming developed countries that spearheaded the initiatives had ulterior motives in the programme.

He told his unwary followers that he was dedicating this whole week to teaching against the danger of the Covid-19 vaccinations.