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Lazarus Chakwera speaks on Covid vaccine shortage

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President Lazarus Chakwera has ordered the Ministry of Health to use all means possible to bring into the country Covid vaccines by the end of August so that people can continue receiving their second dose.

Chakwera said this in Liwonde, Machinga District, Tuesday when he launched the campaign aimed at ending malaria by the year 2030.

The President said he was aware that people were anxious to know when they would get their second dose of Covid vaccines amidst reports of shortages in most public healthcare service points.

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He indicated that Malawi’s shortage had been created due to the reluctance of some countries to release their vaccines to Malawi due to the third wave of the pandemic which is ravaging some developed countries.

“I know that many of you have been anxious due to the shortage of Covid vaccines for the second dose after I launched [the exercise] two weeks ago. Our dependence on other countries to give us free vaccines and the demand for vaccines in those countries occasioned by the third wave of the pandemic has left us exposed,” Chakwera said.

“[But] that is something which the Ministry of Health should have anticipated and mitigated against, especially for those who had already taken their first jab,” he said.

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The President, therefore, ordered Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda to engage partners, including those behind Covid Vaccine Access facility, and other bilateral partners to ensure that the vaccine is secured before the end of August.

Commenting on malaria, Chakwera called for close collaboration among partners so that the country could achieve the goal of eliminating malaria by 2030.

He indicated that Malawi spends about K19 billion every year on treatment of malaria patients in public hospitals.

“We need to scale up projects such as the Residual Indoor Spray initiative, which is being implemented by World Vision and other partners so that all households in malaria-prone areas are protected,” he said.

Annually, six million people suffer from malaria in Malawi. Over 2,500 of them die annually.

Monica Bautista, who is the country team leader for the Unites States (US) President’s Malaria Initiative, said there was a need to double the efforts which Malawi and its partners are channelling towards the malaria fight.

Bautista said the US government had provided Malawi with $270 million for the fight against malaria in the recent past.

She, however, urged Malawi to increase its monetary allocation, personnel as well as number of health centres if it were to address the malaria challenge.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Taskforce on Covid daily update indicates that the country has registered two deaths from Covid Tuesday, with 82 new positive cases. The country has 682 active cases.

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