The statement comes after reports that went viral on social media claiming that most of the hospitals and health centres in the country were running out of the essential vaccines for children.
Speaking soon after inspecting the vaccine stores at the Dodoma Referral hospital, the Director of Preventive Services-Ministry for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Leonard Subi acknowledged that there was shortage of two essential vaccines the government has already procured them.
“It’s true that we had a shortage of two vaccines out of nine, but they have already arrived and the distribution process is still going on across the country,” he said.
He said all the nine essential vaccines preventing people against 13 diseases are already available in the hospitals adding that there was no shortage of the vaccines.
Dr Subi clarified that the shortage of the vaccines happened after the producers closed production due to Covid-19 pandemic.
“The vaccine has already arrived after President John Magufuli opened the airspace. Up to date 10 out of 26 regions have received the vaccines while the distribution process is ongoing in the remaining 13 regions,”he said.
The director further said” “all regional and district medical doctors should ensure that the jabs reach the health facilities and should inform the public that services are available for free, ”he added.
He however waved out rumours that Tanzania had shortage of Rotavirus vaccine which is used to prevent rotavirus infections, which are the leading cause of severe diarrhea among young children.
According to him, there was only a shortage of measles and rubella in the past one month due to Covid-19 noting that the government used to procure vaccines from Europe and Asia.
He described that the government has up to date spent 18bn/- to procure vaccines making Tanzania to be among the countries with immune coverage of 98 percent for six year consecutively.
He however noted that Tanzania had never recorded a case of polio since 1996 contributed by available vaccines all the time adding that it received a recognised certificate from the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2015.
In April this year, the government expressed its commitment towards giving priority to the improvement of immunisation services, including health education and sensitisation, nutrition, prevention from communicable diseases, HIV as well as maternal and child healthcare.
Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ummy Mwalimu, made the commitment in Dar es Salaam when launching guidelines of the community health services plan and use of dashboard indicators of public health education which was spearheaded by the USAID Tulonge Afya (“Let’s Talk about Health”) project.
“The launching of this initiative will supplement efforts to reduce the burden of high medical costs to the people, something which deteriorates to the increasing curable diseases,” she said.
The minister said the importance of immunisation services was underlined in the National Health Policy 2007 and the Health Sector Strategic Plan of 2015-2020, that will also be included in the preparations of the new 2020 national health sector policy.
According to the minister, initiatives to provide health services at the community health workers level would enhance provision of immunity services at all community levels as well as providing health education as a means to prevent the community from diseases.