Meryame Kitir, the Belgian minister for Development Cooperation said the vaccines will contribute to stepping up the nationwide vaccination campaign to protect the life and health of the Tanzanian public.
An embassy statement issued yesterday affirmed that the consignment of 115,200 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines is part of the multilateral COVAX mechanism is coordinated by the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
This donation forms part of a multilateral commitment by Belgium to distribute at least four million vaccine doses to middle and low income countries by the end of 2021, it said, noting that Belgium had largely exceeded this commitment.
It has so far has donated nine million vaccine doses through COVAX on top of its financial contribution of euro 12m for assisting economic recovery and rolling out vaccination campaigns, the statement indicated. COVID-19 vaccination reduces the risk of COVID-19 infections and severe complications.
“The vaccine not only protects you but also the people around you. If as many people as possible in Tanzania are vaccinated the spread of the virus will be inhibited. We commend the government of Tanzania for stepping up the awareness raising campaigns to inform the general public about the importance of getting vaccinated, as well as facilitating vaccination all over the country,” the statement reads in part.
It asserted that while Belgium and most Western countries now have quite satisfactory vaccination rates, on average in Africa barely five percent of the population is vaccinated. “Vaccine inequality is worrying, especially since new, more virulent variants of the corona virus regularly appear,” it elaborated.
Tanzanian authorities recently said vaccination coverage remains very low overall, with close to 1.5m people out of a 60m population having received at least one dose of a vaccine.
Availability of COVID-19 vaccines in Tanzania remains minimal and below the African average, the statement asserted. “Our country’s focus on bilateral donations will be in Africa and more specifically on our African partner countries, where access to vaccines is sorely lacking. Barely five percent of Africa's total population has been vaccinated,” it further stated.
“We can be very proud of the high vaccination coverage in our country, but at the same time, I remain very concerned because many people in vulnerable countries do not have access to a vaccine. This virus has no borders. International solidarity and cooperation is the only way out of this health crisis. We will only be safe when everyone is safe,” the minister declared.
Equitable access to safe and effective vaccines is critical to ending the COVID-19 pandemic, she added..