CSOs petition Malawi Govt on $40m for Covid 19 vaccines

Civil society organizations (CSOs) have petitioned Malawi Government through Parliament to make a supplementary budget for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines enough to carter for five million individuals in the country.

The CSOs, led by Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF), delivered the petition under the banner ‘Vaccine Our World’, demanding that the government should set aside US$40 million for the vaccines.

Vaccine Our World’ is a campaign, which aims at lobbying world leaders, vaccine manufactures and public health organizations to protect humanity by providing equal access to Covid-19 vaccines worldwide, particularly in lower income countries including Malawi.

Chipung receiving the petition from Civil Society Organizations

Speaking during the presentation of the petition at Parliament Building in Lilongwe on Tuesday, AHF Country Program Manager Triza Hara said despite that 2021 budget was already passed in parliament; there is a need to make a supplementary budget towards procurement of Covid-19 vaccines

Hara said this is an issue that requires an urgent action and that depending on donors alone will not accord an opportunity for eligible Malawians to urgently get Covid-19 vaccination jab, a situation that can put Malawian lives at risk.

“Malawi has presently run out of first COVAX consignment of 510,000 vaccine doses of AstraZeneca which has coincided with a surge of cases in the past weeks and more demand for vaccination in the country. Delay in the arrival of 900,000 vaccine doses due to logistical challenges and the decision by India to prioritize its citizens over exporting of the vaccines has negatively impacted Malawi and the lives of Malawians are on danger and as such depending on the COVAX initiative alone will not solve Malawi’s vaccine needs,” she said.

Among other highlights in the petition, CSO are requesting government to urgently address the existing inequalities between rural and urban Malawians on matters around vaccine availability, accessibility and information sharing on benefits of vaccine and safety.

Receiving the petition, Member of Parliament for Thyolo South West and a Member of Parliamentary committee on Health, Chimwemwe Chipungu, said all the concerns presented in the petition are valid and that health committee will not sleep over it but to take urgent action for the benefit of all Malawians.

One of the concerned citizen carrying a Placard

“This is a serious matter that needs an urgent action, I will make sure that this petition lands on speaker’s desk today and us as parliamentarians in the health committee, will advance the agenda to make sure that the lives of fellow Malawians are safe,” he said.

Speaking during a round table discussion after presenting the petition, Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN) executive director, George Jobe, reiterated that the global Covid-19 vaccination effort must secure $100 Billion from G20 Countries in order to produce and provide seven billion vaccine doses worldwide within one year.

Africa had expected to acquire 75 million vaccine doses but so far, only 12 million doses have been delivered and in Malawi, as of June 2021, only 426,356 people have received a Covid 19 vaccine. 2.1% of the population has received at least one dose with only 0.2% having been fully vaccinated.

Malawi launched Covid-19 vaccine campaign on 11 March 2021 in Zomba and since then the country has been depending on donations from outside institutions and countries such as Covax Facility, World Bank and government of India, among others.

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