COVID-19 Vaccination ‘Deal’ Faces Backlash

The vaccination was scheduled to be administered by the Blantyre District Health Office The vaccination was scheduled to be administered by the Blantyre District Health Office - internet pic

There is growing outrage following revelation that Malmed Healthcare Service allegedly organized a special arrangement with Asian community for COVID-19 vaccination exercise in Blantyre which was slated for today.

A statement making rounds on social media, purportedly from the health facility, says that the vaccination was scheduled to be administered by the Blantyre District Health Office (DHO).

“By special arrangement with the Asian/Indian Community in town, we have organized a hassle-free AZ vaccination [AstraZeneca vaccination] exercise at my institution tomorrow Sunday starting from 9:00 am.

“If any of you are passing through town tomorrow and have not had the jab yet, please feel free to partake. BT DHO COVID-19 Vaccination Team will run the show,” reads the circular.

The communication further says that “several Indians have put together something to pay allowances for the BT COVID team for making them work on this on a Sunday.

“The first one hour or so (9:00 to 10:30 am will therefore be dedicated to the Indians. Thereafter, it is free for anyone coming in. The DHO Team has promised to be around until the last person. We are Malmed Healthcare Service and our Blantyre location is: Behind Chibisa House and opposite TNM Car Park.”

This has sparked public outrage.

Ombudsman Martha Chizuma took to twitter that “if indeed this is an arrangement by the Blantyre DHO, it is something that needs to be inquired into to understand what exactly was the thought process to arriving at that arrangement; and I will do exactly do that.”

Health minister, Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, also wrote on her Facebook page that “that the AstraZeneca vaccine is for all Malawians and for free. No special arrangements will be entertained. No allowance to the vaccinators is allowed. Let’s get it from the approved health institutions.”

Executive member of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition, Reverend Macdonald Sembereka, told Zodiak Online that the development is unfortunate and they are disappointed with the arrangement.

“It is unfortunate. We are not amused with that kind of attitude because, in essence, we find it very discriminatory. It alienates the section of society and it is uncalled for. To that effect, we called upon the ministry of health to take action and we are pleased that the ministry has taken remedial action and has halted that process,” he said.

After the news broke out, another communication from the health facility came out announcing cancellation of the exercise.

Our talk to some workers at the facility confirmed the cancellation.

Director of Health and Social Services for Blantyre, Dr. Gift Kawalazira, says that vaccination centers remain government and CHAM health facilities as per government policy.

“Blantyre DHO would like to clarify on a message that is circulating on social media concerning vaccinating clients at Malmed Private Clinic. The office is informing the general public that vaccination centers remain government and CHAM [Christian Health Association of Malawi] health facilities as per government policy.

“The Office is further informing the public to rely on official communication from this office on issues to do with health activities in the district,” he said in a statement.

Officials from the Malmed Clinic could not be reached for response.

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