Tanzania: Experts Advise On Voluntary Covid-19 Vaccination

A Covid-19 vaccine dose.

PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan yesterday received the country's Covid-19 status report from a special committee of experts, placing more emphasis on 19 key recommendations including advising the government on steps towards approving voluntary vaccination and ruling out chances of lockdown.

The Chairman of the Committee, Prof Said Aboud handed over the report at the State House in Dar es Salaam, noting that previously, the country had been hit hard by two waves of Covid-19 pandemic, warning on the high possibility of a third wave.

Prof Aboud said efforts to contain the first wave had been intensive in comparison to the second one, calling upon the government to step up the fight against any possibility of the third upsurge.

"Government needs to proceed with the steps towards voluntary vaccination approval against Covid- 19 using vaccines listed by WHO in the protection of its citizens... based on the committee's analysis; such vaccines are effective and have scientifically been proved fit for humans.

"Likewise, special consideration of using the country's own context in the control of the disease should continue in deciding to either impose or not impose a lockdown, and by creatively coming up with models for economic growth and strengthening the sectors, which contribute to the economy," said Prof Aboud.

Among such recommendations issued by the experts suggested that the government speed up the process of reviving its contingency and response plans at all levels in dealing with outbreaks including Covid- 19.

The list also included the release of information on Covid-19 presence and taking concrete steps to strengthen interventions as wave. Equally, he noted that health professionals should fulfill their professional responsibilities, based on professionalism, norms and values in educating, preventing and treating Covid-19 patients in the country.

"For Tanzania to fully ratify different resolutions the country should participate effectively in decision-making and implementing regional and international resolutions adopted in the EAC, SADC, AU and WHO communities," he pointed out.

The Committee Chairman at the same time said the National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group along with the TMDA should continue to be involved in sharing information, issuing pieces of advice and be on top of controlling such vaccines.

In this category, priority will be given to groups including healthcare providers and frontline workers in tourism, hotels, borders, religious leaders and pilgrims.

Others are the aged people, who have attained 50 years and above, adults with chronic ailments (diabetes, blood pressure, breathing complications, river problems among others). The rest are healthcare providers and frontline workers such as in tourism sites, hotels, borders, religious leaders and pilgrims; defence and security personnel and those travelling outside the country.

The government should mobilise and prepare for the reception, storage, transportation and mechanisms for delivery of vaccines, noting that the public should be free to be vaccinated or not. Elaborating, he said that the government should coordinate the accessibility of vaccines for all international agencies staff within the country, adding: "The government should enroll itself to the COVAX Facility by submitting document requesting for vaccines, using the opportunity provided by GAVI.

"The government should take advantage of the current situation to begin the process of setting up vaccine factories. "Other measures should include, strengthening internal diagnostic services by building the capacity of the National Public Health Laboratory and other laboratories in the country to expand the scope of Covid-19 testing. "Building internal capacity for the detection of various viruses, which cause Covid-19 and other infectious diseases in the country, as well as providing accurate data on the pandemic to the public and WHO for citizens to obtain accurate information from authorities, while adhering to the agreements and regulations the country has ratified."

The committee also recommended that the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children should finalise a new guideline for the treatment of the disease. The government should continue to ensure that the use of traditional and alternative medicine in the formal system of modern medicine consider and respect scientific principles.

To provide opportunities while enabling scientists to conduct research in accordance with the norms, values and procedures set to strengthen prevention, treatment, diagnosis of Covid- 19 and its effects on society in the country.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Finance and Economy should conduct a comprehensive assessment of the impact of the Covid-19 catastrophe and put in place a comprehensive mid-term and long-term plan to boost the country's economy. The union governments have been encouraged to continue co-operating in responding against Covid-19 among other disasters taking into account the issuance of international documents such as Travel Advisory Note.

The Disaster Management Department in the Office of the Prime Minister should continue to effectively fulfill the role of coordination and provision of relevant resources during national and international disasters such as Covid-19 while involving all sectors. The committee also called upon the government to clear all outstanding debt to service providers and staff who were at the forefront of tackling Covid- 19 to increase their morale and productivity of controlling the disease.

Collaboration between the government and other stakeholders such as religious leaders, Development Partners (DPs), private sector and media is among crucial aspects, which have been stressed by the committee in dealing with the pandemic.

The committee was formed to advise the government on the way forward regarding the management of the pandemic which first struck the country in March 2020.

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