By Garikai Tunhira
HUMAN rights doctors have expressed concern over the low uptake of COVID-19 vaccines as the country battles to control the spread of the respiratory virus.
In a statement to mark World Health Day commemorations, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) said there was need for awareness campaigns so that communities embrace vaccination.
Zimbabwe today joins the world in commemorating the World Health Day 2021 under the theme Building a Fairer, Healthier World for Everyone.
“ZADHR notes the poor uptake of vaccination across the country and urges the Ministry of Health and Child Care to do more on vaccine literacy through enhanced public campaigns to popularise the vaccine roll-out plan and on dispelling myths and misconceptions for the purposes of promoting demand for, and uptake of vaccines in the country,” the rights doctors said
“We also urge the government of Zimbabwe to invest more in financing the procurement of more vaccines and expanding the geographic reach of the programme.”
They said this year’s commemorations were again being held in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had exposed the inadequacies of health systems in ensuring health services are available, accessible and of good quality for all.
“ZADHR, on this day, joins all stakeholders in the health sector in taking stock of the gains, misses and opportunities in the fight against COVID-19 in Zimbabwe. ZADHR notes that the poor, indigent and marginalised communities have suffered the most due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the rights doctors added.
“The situation has further amplified gender, social and health inequalities and calls for governments across the world to ensure that citizens, especially the marginalised, are protected from the negative effects of the pandemic socially and economically.
“In this vein, ZADHR applauds governments across the world on the COVAX initiative, an international solidarity mechanism to support poor countries access vaccines for COVID-19.
“We believe the initiative, if implemented well, has the propensity to support communities in resource limited countries to get a fair share of the global vaccines available. We also note the strides the government of Zimbabwe has made in sourcing vaccines and the current rollout plan.”
In February, President Emmerson Mnangagwa expressed concern over the low uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine, and threatened to impose mandatory vaccination to enable the country to achieve 60% herd immunity.
“You are not going to be forced to be vaccinated, but the time shall come when those who are not vaccinated won’t get jobs,” he said then.
By yesterday morning, 123 454 people had received their first doses of the vaccines.
Zimbabwe has taken delivery of the Sinopharm and Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines from China as well as Covaxin from India