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‘No Covid vaccines in rural areas’

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George Jobe

By Wezzie Gausi:

National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Public Trust has asked the government to introduce mobile clinics to ease the administration of Covid vaccines in rural areas.

In its Covid Awareness and Vaccine Mobilisation Campaign Report, Nice has faulted the government for failing to take vaccines to rural areas.

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Nice Trust spokesperson Grace Hara said people were complaining about covering long distances which are making the vaccines inaccessible to many.

“There is a need for the government to quickly meet rural people’s needs. If people are to access vaccines, then there has to be a way of resolving distance issues to health facilities.

“We, as an institution, are of the view that mobile clinics will help a lot if the government were to meet its target of the number of people to be vaccinated,” Hara said.

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Ministry of Health spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe welcomed the suggestion, saying the ministry had also noticed a decline in the number of people turning out to be vaccinated.

He said they had already started operating mobile clinics to some districts of the country, adding that they would be scaling up in all districts soon.

“We want as many people as possible to get vaccinated in the country. That can only happen if the vaccine is accessible to all people, including those in hard-to-reach areas,” Chikumbe said.

However, Malawi Health Equity Network Executive Director George Jobe said, while mobile clinics were good, the Ministry of Health needed to assess community needs before taking that path.

“When vaccines stay long outside refrigerators, they expire. As such, there will be a waste of resources if government officials were to take vaccines to rural areas, only to have few people getting vaccinated. What is needed first is awareness and having numbers of people who are ready to be vaccinated,” Jobe said.

As of Monday, September 13 2021, over 452,000 people had received full AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

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