BY LORRAINE MUROMO
The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has described religious leaders as key players in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was revealed during a virtual meeting between Unicef and the Ministry of Health and Child Care in partnership with Apostolic Women Empowerment Trust to drum up support for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and recovery plan.
In a statement, Unicef said religious leaders were an essential tool to break myths, misconceptions and to speed up uptake of the vaccine.
“Faith leaders are critical partners in addressing many known barriers to the uptake of health and other essential services, including vaccines,” read the statement
“Unicef’s Global Faith for Positive Change Initiative recognises the central role and influence of religious leaders in behaviour and social change
ZCC general secretary Kenneth Mtata told NewsDay that religious leaders were essential as congregants tended to take advice from their clergy.
“Pastors are listened to by their members and as the clergy of the ZCC we had to be exemplary and did awareness education campaigns. Also, the clergy went for vaccination and most of our clergy have so far received the first and the second doses,” he said.
“This was done to show our members that it is possible to take the vaccine without any challenges.”
Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe president Johannes Ndanga said: “We recently held a meeting and we are continuing to do so under the required numbers to encourage our members to get vaccinated.
“Ignoring vaccination and health protocols has cost us from the past and it’s time to change the narrative. I am appealing to all traditional church sects to get vaccinated.”
Zimbabwe Council of Churches director for research, innovations and programme development, Ronald Nare said faith leaders had a responsibility to provide understanding and insights about vaccines.
“We must mobilise faith groups to take direct actions to promote the well-being of children, families and the communities they serve.”