Tanzania's health minister explains Covid-19 U-turn

Tuesday August 17 2021
Gwajima pic
By The Citizen Reporter

Musoma/Dar. The stance of Health Minister Dorothy Gwajima on measures to curb spread of the Covid-19 pandemic is seemingly confusing Tanzanians.

Tanzanians were facing difficulties in choosing what is right and what is wrong between traditional and scientific remedies, stakeholders said on separate occasions this and last week.

During the second wave of the pandemic, Dr Gwajima insisted on the use of traditional remedies as plausible options for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19.

 She, herself, was using the same approach to deal with the pandemic.

However, after President Samia Suluhu Hassan took power on March 19, 2021 following the death of her predecessor, Dr John Magufuli on March 17, Dr Gwajima made a U-turn.

She has now shifted to touting modern remedies, which include vaccination.

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Making clarification on the same, Ms Gwajima said she never regretted using traditional remedies.

According to her, she arrived at a decision to use traditional remedies due to the fact that they were approved by respective authorities to be good for use. She urged Tanzanians not to mislead the public about the late Magufuli’s stance on vaccination.

“He didn’t say vaccination is not good. He said the Health ministry and its experts should first find out whether it is good for use or not,” said Minister Gwajima.

 “That is what we did before the sixth phase government allowed the use of vaccines.”

She said when the first case of Covid-19 was being confirmed in March in a country, there was no way Tanzanians could escape traditional remedies given the fact that the vaccine was not there.

 Analyst Bubelwa Kaiza said the stance against the Covid-19 that leaders had during the fifth phase government had contributed significantly in rejection of scientific remedies. “It is hard to change the citizens’ mindset who used to be told that Covid-19 could be treated by traditional methods and prayers,” said Mr Kaiza.

According to the Heath ministry’s permanent secretary, Prof Abel Makubi, until August 14, 207,391 Tanzanians had been vaccinated.

Speaking on August 10, the ACT-Wazalendo leader, Mr Zitto Kabwe, said that the Health minister and her deuty, Godwin Mollel, should resign - or be shown the door.

 “Now that the government has made a U-turn in modalities of curbing the Covid-19, we cannot have the same people who used to make us believe that Tanzania had defeated Covid-19 through traditional remedies,” Mr Kabwe said.