BY MOSES MUGUGUNYEKI
PRIVATE medical players yesterday welcomed government’s move to incorporate them in the on-going COVID-19 vaccination programme, albeit at a nominal cost, saying it will assist in alleviating the long queues of people in need of the jab at public health institutions.
Last week, government announced that it was taking on board the private sector to assist in the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, especially in hotspots across the country.
The vaccination exercise, which started in February, was the sole responsibility of public health institutions.
However, of late, there has been a surge in demand of the vaccines due to the third wave of the pandemic which has resulted in a spike in new cases and deaths and government pronouncements to the effect that civil servants will not be allowed to board Public Service Commission buses if they were not vaccinated.
The government has over the months acquired millions of doses of vaccines in its quest to attain herd immunity, which is 60% of the population. However, the vaccination programme has been experiencing manpower shortages in the public sector.
As at Monday, 1 491 493 people had received their first doses against the respiratory disease.
Last week, Health and Child Care secretary Jasper Chimedza said the move to rope in private players was meant to accelerate the exercise and ease pressure on public health facilities.
He said private hospitals and clinics would offer the vaccines at a nominal cost.
Currently, a number of private hospitals and clinics throughout the country have begun administering COVID-19 vaccines, with some charging US$5 for a single dose.
Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association president Johannes Marisa told NewsDay that private players have welcomed the move.
“We received that communication from government, and we have embraced the idea as private medical practitioners,” Marisa said.
“Our members are already engaging city health departments, which are co-ordinating the exercise in their respective towns. Our members in Harare were expected to go for training programmes tomorrow (today) so that they kick start the project,” he said, adding that combating the spread of COVID-19 virus needed a collective approach.
Zimbabwe has so far acquired 5, 5 million doses, which include the Sinopharm and Sinovac from China, and Russia’s Sputnik V and India’s Covaxin vaccines.