Dar es Salaam. In a major development, Tanzania, whose stand until recently was against Covid-19 vaccines, now readies for the jabs after a team of experts yesterday handed in a report on how the country can roll them out.
Last month, President Samia Suluhu Hassan received a report by a special committee of experts that she formed in April to professionally evaluate the Covid-19 pandemic situation in the country.
Among other things, the team, chaired by Prof Said Aboud, recommended for the government to allow voluntary vaccination and resume issuing of statistics related to the pandemic. And yesterday, the committee formed to advise the government on the way forward regarding the management of the pandemic, handed another report detailing how Tanzania can mobilise resources to control Covid-19 as well as the proposals for the vaccination strategy.
“The committee has advised different ways of mobilizing financial resources from the budget and other stakeholders including the international organisations and the private sector,” said the State House in a statement signed by the Presidency spokesperson Gerson Msigwa.
“The money will be used to finance medical equipment, training and the vaccines,” stated Mr Msigwa. The handing of report comes just a day after Zanzibar President Hussein Mwinyi told World Health Organisation’s (WHO) representative to Tanzania Dr Tigest Ketsela Mengestu that the archipelago was ready to receive the Covid-19 vaccination support and other donations to fight against the pandemic.
On the other hand, Dr Mengestu asked the government of Zanzibar to identify the kind of vaccine it would need, especially now when Muslims were preparing for Hajj.
“WHO is ready to cooperate with the government of Zanzibar in the vaccination, training of medical experts and other health issues,” she said. Tanzania is among the six countries in the world which have not yet started vaccinating. Others are North Korea, Haiti, Chad, Burundi and Eritrea. On Thursday, the UN warned that Africa was poorly prepared for the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with vaccine deliveries at a near-standstill and lacking key resources in frontline care.
“Many African hospitals and clinics are still far from ready to cope with a huge rise in critically ill patients,” the WHO’s regional director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said. Africa has officially registered over 4.8 million Covid-19 cases and 130,000 deaths, according to the WHO, a figure representing 2.9 percent of global cases and 3.7 percent of deaths.
President Hassan changed direction of Tanzania which previously played down the viral disease, with former President John Magufuli warning that the vaccines were dangerous.
According to yesterday’s statement, President Hassan also directed the Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Dorothy Gwajima, to prepare a presentation which will be discussed by the Cabinet that will make decision about the committee recommendations. The Head of State also allowed foreign embassies and other international organisations to import vaccines for their people and employees to make their working easy and enable them to comply with their respective countries. However, the importation of vaccines will be coordinated by the Ministry of Health, Mr Msigwa wrote in the State House statement.
Tanzania last released data on Covid-19 more than a year ago with data then showing that Tanzania only had had 509 cases.
Since then, the government adopted the approach that Tanzania was free from Covid-19 with authorities encouraging local remedies such as steam therapy.
However, when swearing-in the ministers she appointed in April, President Hassan said Tanzania needed to have a clear and understandable position regarding the pandemic so that it can make informed decisions.
Since then, the President and other public leaders started taking precautionary measures, including social distancing and wearing face masks in public functions.