BY PRESTIGE MUNTANGA
THE Health ministry will soon embark on a COVID-19 outreach vaccination programme in parts of Matabeleland North province, targeting areas where people experience transport problems and have to travel very long distances to get inoculated.
Matabeleland North provincial medical director Admire Kuretu, told Southern Eye that the Health ministry decided to embark on the outreach programme after realising that vaccine uptake was low in Matabeleland North due to inadequate health facilities.
Out of the 2 966 892 people that had received their second dose by yesterday morning throughout the country, the total number of fully vaccinated people in Matabeleland North was 220 455.
People in districts like Binga, Bubi and Nkayi, among others, have been struggling to access health services due to poor road infrastructure, lack of transport and poor communication.
In August, government established 17 vaccination centres in Binga in an effort to speed up the vaccination exercise.
However, these vaccination centres have proven to be ineffective as they are far from villages.
Kuretu said the Health ministry was also concerned about an increase in COVID-19 cases at a time when a majority of villagers have not been vaccinated.
“We have a dramatic rise in cases in all Matabeleland North districts. Binga had reported zero cases for some time, but now we are seeing a rise in cases within the communities,” he said, without disclosing the exact figures.
“Fortunately, most of the cases are asymptomatic or mild. Vaccine uptake has gone down as well, but with the blitz that the Vice-President launched last month, the numbers are starting to improve.”
Kuretu said health workers were establishing mobile vaccination centres closer to the people.
“This month, we are pushing for outreach programmes to the hard-to-reach communities so that we take the vaccines to the people, rather than wait for them to come,” he said.