The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has called for immediate abolition of the mandatory requirement of the national identity (ID) for Malawians to access Covid-19 vaccines, arguing this is discriminatory and a gross violation of human and people’s rights.
Despite over three million adult Malawians having no national registration cards, the Ministry of Health and Population made it a requirement that everyone that goes to access the vaccines should produce the ID.
But CHRR executive director Michael Kaiyatsa, in an interview with Nyasa Times on Wednesday, argued that if the mandatory requirement is maintained, millions of Malawians would miss out on the vaccine, which will be too bad for a country that is already struggling to get more people to get the jab.
Current statistics indicate that less than two percent of the country’s population are fully vaccinated.
“In a country where uptake of Covid-19 vaccines is that low, it is vital that authorities should be removing all obstacles and structural barriers, like the national ID requirement, to ensure that more people access the vaccines. While we understand that the national ID maybe necessary for capturing data, it is violation of human rights to deny people who do not have the ID access to the vaccines,” said Kaiyatsa.
He emphasized that access to health services, including Covid-19 vaccines, is a basic human right and should, therefore, not be conditioned upon possessing national IDs.
Kaiyatsa reminded authorities at the ministry that Covid-19 does not discriminate between those with national IDs and those without.
He said it is said that the government decided to maintain the national ID requirement for people to access vaccines, yet millions of Malawians do not possess it, not because of choice, but because of administration challenges in processing the national IDs.
Kaiyatsa further stated that there are also many Malawians who cannot afford a national ID due to costs that government charges to process it.
“Then there are people who face difficulties accessing the national ID due to mobility challenges (as is often the case for persons with disabilities and elderly). Therefore, maintaining the national ID requirement for accessing vaccines will unfairly disadvantage those who cannot afford the national IDs, which will in turn end up deepening already existing inequalities in our society,” he narrated.
“The Constitution is clear about non-discrimination. Under section 20(1) of the Constitution, discrimination in any form is prohibited. In our view, making possession of a national ID a prerequisite for one to receive vaccines is a form of discrimination, and is, therefore, unconstitutional. You cannot precondition the enjoyments of basic rights, such as the rights to life and health, on whether someone has a national ID or not. It is against this background that we urge the government, through the ministry of health, to urgently remove the nation ID requirement for people to access COVID-19 vaccines,” emphasized Kaiyatsa.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :