Dar es Salam (AFP)
The Tanzanian Ministry of Health announced that it would begin a mass vaccination campaign on Wednesday, as part of a reversal of the policy of the late skeptical leader of the country in the face of Covid.
Former President John Magufuli was one of a handful of world leaders who mocked the novel coronavirus, shunning masks and vaccines while insisting the disease could be fought back through the healing power of prayer.
His successor, President Samia Suluhu Hassan, said the country is currently grappling with a third wave of Covid infections and called on Tanzanians to follow health guidelines to curb the spread of the virus.
Hassan herself will receive a vaccine as she kicks off the vaccination campaign in the financial capital Dar es Salaam, Health Minister Dorothy Gwajima said on Monday evening.
The program will begin with the Johnson & Johnson single injection vaccine.
The East African country received just over a million doses over the weekend from Covax, the global initiative to ensure low-income countries receive vaccines.
# photo1 “The launch of the vaccination exercise is historic for our nation in the fight against the coronavirus,” said Gwajima, who under Magufuli had promoted a vegetable smoothie and other purported natural remedies to ward off Covid.
“The administration of vaccines is one of the measures that the world trusts in the fight against viral diseases including Covid-19,” she added, calling on other heads of government to promote the campaign.
– Vaccine apathy –
Anti-vaccine sentiment, often fueled by conspiracy theories and mistrust, spread across Africa and limited uptake of the jab.
Josephat Gwajima, Tanzanian Archbishop and Member of Parliament, was recently criticized after asking his congregation not to be vaccinated, arguing that there was not enough research to prove that the vaccines will not lead to future health problems. health.
Tanzania, a country of 58 million people, is one of three nations on the continent that have yet to begin immunizing its citizens, along with Eritrea and Burundi.
The government stopped releasing Covid-19 data in April 2020, with Magufuli saying the release of the numbers scared people and called the vaccines “dangerous.”
But after Magufuli’s death in March, Hassan created an expert task force to advise his government on how best to deal with the pandemic.
The Ministry of Health released new health guidelines on July 25, including the mandatory wearing of face masks on public transport.
But compliance has been poor, especially on overcrowded buses.
Gwajima, the Minister of Health, said last week that the number of Covid cases had risen to 858 since the start of the third wave.
She also said 29 people had died, but did not give a deadline.
When the government stopped publishing the figures, it reported 509 cases and 16 deaths.
# photo2Magufuli, nicknamed the ‘Bulldozer’ for his uncompromising leadership style, has died of what the government has called heart disease after a mysterious three-week absence.
His detractors say he had the Covid-19.
© 2021 AFP