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Church should lead vaccination programme

HEALTH TALK with Dr Johannes Marisa

Covid-19 has continued to ravage the entire world with at least 4,34 million people having succumbed to the virus since its outbreak in Wuhan province, China in 2019.

Africa has lost at least 182 000 people, but that number is far from the truth as many countries do not report their statistics to the World Health Organisation.

It is absurd to find out that there are countries that record zero cases and zero deaths from Covid-19 yet their respective neighbours are bombarded and depredated to the bone. Nations should learn to report their cases for strategic planning purposes.

Zimbabwe has done well in terms of Covid-19 management and control with public health measures and restrictions working to mitigate against the heinous virus.

Public gatherings have been implicated as fueling transmissions so the banning of weddings, church gatherings, soccer matches, massive funerals have helped in the containment of the virus.

We are at a safer position today because of at least following these public health measures. Everyone knows that Africa is a poor continent with weak health infrastructure and demotivated health workforce who endure in poor working environment.

However, mortality and morbidity have not been as high as in the developed world that boasts of advanced clinical technology, state-of-the-art equipment including sophisticated ventilation, drugs and renowned doctors and other researchers.

Covid-19 seems to be a virus that will stay with us for some time. We are already at the end of the third wave today, but we are facing a fourth wave before the end of the year with threats of more serious attacks ahead.

The reality is that the rate of mutation is too much with Covid-19 as United Kingdom has witnessed alpha variant, South Africa beta variant, gamma in Brazil, lambda in Peru and Delta in India.

These mutant threats are a threat to humanity and for sure will cause a lot of affliction as they have a great potential to evade the immune system or even the available vaccines.

It is sad that Covid-19 is attacking some patients for the second time or even the third time, making it a very obnoxious pathogen that evades the immune system in no time.

The behaviour of the virus therefore calls for all of us to realise the following:

  • People should not confuse issues of public policy and individual rights in international emergencies like Covid-19 pandemics. A policy is a public declaration for the benefit of the masses and it not put to suit one person. When government promulgated S1 77, 83, 90 of 2020, it wanted to protect people from the ravaging effects of the virus which was very necessary. That there is no heroism in denying vaccination when faced with such a scenario. Many deaths occurring in hospitals are for the unvaccinated and yet you find conspiracy theorists denigrating the vaccines. The 1957/58 Asian flu was halted by Microbiologist Maurice Hilleman’s vaccine which was made in 1957, same again with the 1968 Hong Kong flu.
  • It is my prayer that church organisations spread the word of public health and not to work antagonistically to national health interests. Yes rights are there, but policies want to protect the general populace. This is the time for upscaling of vaccinations everywhere in our country and it is imperative to expedite the processes in order to cover as many people as possible. It should be remembered that vaccination, which is haphazard and sporadic can result in flare ups with possibilities of creation of variants.

In as much as people will get vaccinated, the fact that there are vaccination gaps in terms of the time of inoculation may allow for mutations to take place in between with resultant further complicated scenarios.

All this will surely keep Covid-19 in circulation for a long time and I do not see the virus disappearing in a short time to come. Africa is well behind in terms of vaccination with only about 24 million people having been fully vaccinated or just 1,7% of the entire population. This is an insignificant fraction if we are dreaming of achieving herd immunity amongst our populace. This means there is going to be misery amongst many of us in poor countries as the virus will continue to attack unabated. More sickness, usage of resources and deaths still lie ahead of us. Covid-19 is real.

  • With the fading of the third wave in our country, some notable suggestions like the early opening of schools in the meantime should be considered as the fourth wave is anticipated down the end of the year. Schools can be opened in few days from now as incidence is on a downward trend to allow our youngsters to access some education for this year. There is always chance to close the schools with the emergence of more new cases but I personally feel this is the time to start opening schools. The virus will still linger amongst us for some time so we may need to start adapting to its virulence or threats for a long time.
  • People should know that complacency, defiance, indiscipline, bad behaviour are all contributors to Covid-19 misery, morbidity and mortality. Please follow medical guidelines when you are faced with Covid-19 in your life. Continuous steaming without intermittent medical advice is a recipe for disaster if what we observed during the third wave is to be considered. Covid-19 will be among us for some time to come!

Spread the word of vaccination wherever you are. The vaccination center is next to you!

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