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US tips Malawi on Covid safeguards

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NEITZKE— Address the problem of misinformation

By Patience Lunda:

United States (US) chargé d’affaires to Malawi Jeremey Neitzke has advised government officials to engage opinion leaders on Covid vaccine uptake, saying, with the discovery of the new coronavirus variant called Omicron, there is no time to waste.

He listed community and faith leaders among public influencers that would help Malawi address the problem of vaccine hesitancy, especially now that Covid vaccine supplies were constant.

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Neitzke said this when he engaged religious leaders in the Northern Region district of Mzimba.

“The government needs to address [problems of] myths and misinformation by engaging people that can help it increase the uptake of Covid vaccines. There is also a need to address concerns that the opinion leaders may raise so that, together with government officials, amicable solutions can be identified,” he said.

Prophet William Ng’ambi concurred with the US emissary, saying engagement was key to meeting Covid vaccine uptake targets.

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“On our part, we, as faith leaders, need the right information on Covid vaccines so that we can help service users make informed decisions. Without having the right information ourselves, we can mislead people or fuel myths and misconceptions.

“We, therefore, urge policymakers not to sideline us when coming up with strategies that would help Malawi increase Covid uptake levels,” he said.

Women in Faith Vice Chairperson Cecelia Mambo cited misinformation on Covid vaccines as one of the challenges hampering Covid vaccine access in the country.

“We have to address the problem of misinformation if we are to win the battle against the Covid pandemic,” she said.

According to the Ministry of Health, a total of 1,414, 261 vaccines had been administered in the country as of Tuesday, November 30 2021.

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