Covid-19 vaccine will be free of charge – VP Chiwenga
Harare, (New Ziana) –Vaccination for Covid-19 for Zimbabweans will be free of charge and by choice when they become available in the short term, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said on Thursday.
Zimbabwe has since the beginning of 2021 witnessed a spike in Covid-19 infections, having recorded the highest number of deaths and infections in January, more than any other month since the pandemic broke out in March last year.
To date the country has recorded 33 964 confirmed cases and 1 269 deaths, with the national recovery rate standing at 80.6 percent as of February 3.
The country is waiting to receive Covid-19 vaccines under the global Covax facility, with the government having said it had US$100 million budgeted to acquire more.
The Chinese government has also announced that it would donate a large quantity of doses to the country.
“My fellow Zimbabweans, let me also reiterate that the government of Zimbabwe will roll-out Covid-19 vaccines for free, to all our citizens who may wish to be vaccinated. The policy is inspired by humane morals that, “Life should not be bought,” VP Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care, said during World Cancer Day commemorations.
The assurance comes after Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube torched a storm after telling a local broadcaster that some citizens, not on the government priority list which includes heath workers and other vulnerable groups, might have to pay for the vaccine for the government to recoup costs.
Professor Ncube on Thursday issued a statement saying his remarks had been “taken out of context.”
“I would like to make it clear that the vaccines that the Government of Zimbabwe is procuring with the support of our international partners and friends, will be made available for free, to the citizens of Zimbabwe,” he said.
Meanwhile, VP Chiwenga said the government had made commendable progress in addressing the burden of cancer, which remains a top killer globally, and was just recently overtaken by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Admittedly, more effort is still required to ensure that citizens have access to world class cancer care,” he said.
Decentralisation of oncologist services, access to screening, awareness programmes focusing on early detection and prevention as well as contribution of traditional medicines in cancer management were some of the areas that required improvement, he said.