Maputo — The Mozambican Ministry of Health needs a further ten days to complete its preparations for vaccinating health professionals against the Covid-19 respiratory disease, according to Health Minister Armindo Tiago.
Speaking on Saturday, at a meeting with representatives of private clinics, Tiago said the preparatory phases include sending the vaccines from Maputo to the provincial capitals, and training all the staff who will undertake the vaccination. "All this process should be done in ten days", said Tiago. "So probably within ten days we shall have the conditions for starting the vaccination".
200,000 doses of the vaccine produced by the Chinese company Sinopharm arrived in Maputo last Wednesday. This quantity is more than enough to give all Mozambican health professionals the required two doses.
Tiago added that his Ministry is finalizing the vaccination plan. This document should also be presented publicly in the next ten days.
All health professionals working in Mozambique are eligible for vaccination, including foreigners. But in the case of foreign health workers, the Ministry is waiting for replies to letters sent to their countries asking whether they agree to their citizens being vaccinated in Mozambique.
But the main purpose of the meeting was to discuss the exorbitant fees that private clinics are demanding from their customers, including for Covid-19 tests, and for subsequent treatment.
Tiago said he accepted that private clinics cannot act in exactly the same way as the public sector. "Obviously there can be differences", he said, "but there cannot be excesses in these differences".
He added that the public hospitals are willing to receive patients transferred from the private clinics, but the criteria for such transfers must be clear so as not to sacrifice the people who depend on the public sector.
Some provinces have already received the Sinopharm vaccine. This is the case, for example, with the southern province of Inhambane, which has received 9,700 doses of the vaccine, and expects to train vaccinators in the coming few days.
Cited by the independent daily "O Pais", the director of the Inhambane provincial health services, Sonia Mahesso, said that, in addition to health professionals, the priorities for receiving the vaccine include diabetics and people with high blood pressure. These are the patients most at risk of hospitalisation if they contract Covid-19.