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Make Vaccines Accessible To All

Discrimination on COVID-19 jabs goes against government's efforts to reach herd immunity. Image by Unsplash

BY DIVINE DUBE | @village_scribe | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | OCT 19, 2021

Everyone — absolutely everyone, deserves unconditional access to vaccination — and to achieve this, authorities must do away with bottlenecks that promote discriminatory practices within local health institutions.

BULAWAYO (The Citizen Bulletin) — A few months ago, President Mnangagwa’s administration went into an offensive, encouraging citizens to get vaccinated against COVID-19. In fact, authorities fell short of making vaccination mandatory. For instance, the first shot at that was a government decree that only vaccinated congregants must be allowed to participate in sit-in religious activities, much to the chagrin of anti-vaxxers.

Following this decree, several people, including vaccine pessimists, began flocking to vaccination centers to get the jab. According to the World Health Organisation, Zimbabwe has vaccinated approximately 17% of its population, a figure which falls far short of 60%, the minimum threshold for herd immunity. It is thus shocking that while the country is still struggling to reach herd immunity to contain the spread of the coronavirus, dozens of potential vaccination candidates in Bulawayo are turned away.

In our lead story, “No National ID, No Vaccination”, we show how several clinics in Bulawayo have been turning away from vaccination centres citizens without national identity cards. Even with letters from local leaders to confirm their identities, the would-be vaxxers are turned away. We find this not only bizarre but against government efforts to reach herd immunity by the end of the year. We thus call upon responsible authorities, especially the mayor, under whose jurisdiction council clinics fall, to nip this issue in the bud, and order health personnel on the ground to allow all citizens to get vaccinated without discrimination.

In Nkayi, Matabeleland North, a longstanding concern about systematic marginalization in labour recruitment has reared its ugly head again. In our report, “Nkayi Nurse Trainees’ Recruitment Mired In Controversy”, villagers allege that of the 16 primary care nursing trainees recruited by Nkayi Hospital, only four are from Matabeleland, while 12 are from Harare. The Citizen Bulletin has consistently been reporting about marginalization in the region, including how locals are subjugated by outsiders, with the State being the central player.

Our plea is that the central government should speedily implement devolution of power as enshrined in the Constitution as this would ensure that locals are able to run their affairs, including administration of jobs within local and quasi-government institutions within their areas. Without devolution of power, administrative justice will remain a pie in the sky.

Every October, people all over the world show their support for everyone affected by breast cancer. This month, as if we have done before, we’re committed to spotlighting the plight of Matabeleland women affected by breast cancer. In our special report, “Poor Health Care and Poverty Impede Fight Against Cancer”, we show how COVID-19 has exacerbated the plight of women suffering from cancer.

Although healthcare for underprivileged breast cancer patients was already difficult to access before the emergency of COVID-19, the pandemic has made it even worse. We thus call upon the government to expedite the establishment of the Universal Health Cover that will exist side by side with medical aid societies, to support chronically ill cancer patients.

ALSO READ: A Corrupt Health Sector Is A Death Trap

Meanwhile, in the past few months, our team has been working on coming up with a new look design for our e-paper, The Bulletin. We’re happy that this publication, Issue 25, embodies the new look. When we launched in August 2020, we were not sure about the stylebook we should adopt. We didn’t want to look like an inhouse magazine. Neither did we want to look like a daily newspaper. In the end, we had to settle for a more neutral look that we stuck with for more than a year.

But we were not totally happy. That is why we continued to search for the best design that suits our editorial ethos, and resembles our diverse community. The search is over. We have now decided to synthesize a magazine and a newspaper style, which aptly captures our futuristic vision. The design is simple, beautiful and dynamic.

A few weeks ago, we shared the beta version — the specimen e-paper —with some of our most loyal readers, and the feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive although others expressed reservations with the new design. We value the feedback, but for now we’ve decided to honour the majority. As an audience-first news outlet, we shall continuously listen to our readers’ feedback as we seek to improve the quality of our products. We wish you all the best as you indulge with Issue 25 of our e-paper.