World Health Organization must also ask President Magufuli to do polio vaccination in Tanzania

Alexander Opicho Feb 25, 2021 at 09:00am

February 25, 2021 at 09:00 am | Opinions & Features

Alexander Opicho

Alexander Opicho | Contributor

February 25, 2021 at 09:00 am | Opinions & Features

John Magufuli. Image via DW

World Health Organization (WHO) cannot walk away from the blame for taking a very long time to intervene in Tanzania’s political failures in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. It is now one year since President John Magufuli stated that there is no Covid-19 in Tanzania and hence health safety measures to combat Covid -19 in the likes of face mask-wearing, sanitizing, hand washing, social distancing, staying at home, lockdowns and voluntary testing have not been observed in Tanzania.

Similarly, daily sharing out with the rest of the world about infection statistics, death and recovery from Covid-19 infections has also not been done by Tanzania. But Tanzanian nationals are tested when traveling in other countries they are found to be infected. It is good that WHO has also established this kind of situation. Thus, there is Covid-19 in Tanzania and hence anti-pandemic measures are to be observed by the people in Tanzania.

President Magufuli argued sometimes back that Covid-19 is not to be taken seriously given that Tanzania has a number of herbal concoctions that can be used to cure the infections related to Covid-19. It is technically so unfortunate that Covid-19 is not the usual flu or cold season allergy, it is an anthropocenic pandemic with all qualities of a special virus politics, thus it can not be dealt away with by using the old age maji maji rebellion strategy once applied unsuccessfully by prophet kinjeketile wa Ngome when countering the armed German colonial entry in Tanganyika. 

It is so bad that the WHO has kept aloof for over one year as Tanzania wallows in this kind of misled political leadership in relation to Covid-19. It was only recently when a certain big person died of Covid-19 in Zanzibar that WHO reacted with a panicked urge to President Magufuli to comply with Covid-19 safety measures and leadership requirements. This was fine out of the big man syndrome which has made Africa suffer for a long time. Why is it that poor and unknown people have been dying of Covid-19 in Tanzania and none of the world’s institutions have been making any effort to intervene?

Let it also be known to the world that ever since, Tanzania has not taken polio vaccination seriously. There is a mindset to encourage rural communities to use homemade herbal medicine to treat poliomyelitis complications. This is why there are a lot of disabled people in rural Tanzania living with disabilities from bone malformation due to political neglect of rural mobilization of the communities into polio vaccination. These are also the same administrative weaknesses to be encountered in Narok County in Kenya. In fact, Narok County has the highest number of adult people with malformed bodies due to the absence of childhood anti-polio vaccination.

I am all ranting about this because I am an East African citizen who wants to put a personal hand in stopping this shameful experience of having more than five Tanzanian street beggars on each and every street, wynds, corridor and estate roads of Kenya, begging for no reason but because they are disabled (walemavu) due to deliberate refusal to be involved in anti-polio vaccination.

In fact, it is a violation of fundamental human rights for a government to avoid protecting its people from a disease that can be prevented. It is also a question of regional security for a country not to test and control Covid-19 among its citizens but only to send its citizens to move around other countries. This is malicious, and a country doing this to others is nothing else other than being an enemy of East Africa.

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