BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
CRISIS in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) has expressed concern over the apparent attempt by the government to sideline vulnerable citizens from the COVID-19 vaccination programme by prioritising the political elite.
This came after head of monitoring and evaluation in the Health and Child Care ministry Robert Mudyiradima announced that government was failing to procure enough COVID-19 vaccine, adding that of the three million doses set to be acquired under the COVAX scheme and it would prioritise frontline healthcare workers, ministers, MPs, the security sector and senior government officials.
“While we applaud the move to prioritise vaccination of frontline health workers (who have largely been exposed to the pandemic due to lack of personal protective equipment at public hospitals) we bemoan the fact that the government has deliberately left vulnerable groups out of the vaccination programme,” CiZC spokesperson Marvellous Khumalo said in a statement.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, which has so far claimed more than 1 000 lives, has largely affected ordinary Zimbabweans; most of whom are living far below the poverty datum line and cannot afford medical care.”
Most Zimbabweans suggested on social media that a vaccine, not trusted by many, should be tested on government officials who make decisions and only cascade to the people once its efficacy has been proven on the officials. Many people in various countries have reportedly died due to side effects of the vaccines.
But Khumalo said it was a known fact that over the years, Zimbabwe’s health sector had been in the intensive care unit and ordinary Zimbabweans have had to bear the brunt of a failed healthcare system.
Following the announcement by Mudyiradima that government would prioritise ministers, MPs and top government officials, Khumalo said the COVID-19 pandemic had further exposed the rot within the health sector and it was highly irresponsible for the government to prioritise political elites while sidelining vulnerable citizens.
He said over the years, we have witnessed cases of patients dying at public hospitals while top government officials, who are largely responsible for the rot in the health sector were seeking medical treatment abroad.
“For the government to prioritise the same people behind this rot is just but a confirmation of the fact that the welfare of ordinary citizens is secondary to our current crop of leaders,” Khumalo said.
He said the CiZC would like to remind the government of its obligation to provide healthcare services to citizens as set out under section 76 of the Constitution. “Moreover, section 82 of the Constitution states that citizens over the age of 70 have the right to receive healthcare and medical assistance from the State while section 83 implores the State to provide medical care to persons with disabilities and it is a serious abrogation of duty for the government to sideline these vulnerable populations in the COVID-19 vaccination programme.”
“The COVID-19 vaccine should never be a preserve for the elite and we implore the government to ensure that ordinary Zimbabweans who continue to bear the brunt of a failing economy have access to the COVID-19 vaccine,” he said.