Zambian president decries low COVID-19 vaccination rate

FILE PHOTO: United Party for National Development (UPND) Presidential candidate Hakainde Hichilema looks on during a rally in Lusaka, January 18, 2015. Image courtesy: REUTERS/Rogan Ward/File Photo
Current Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema looks on during a rally in Lusaka, January 18, 2015. Image courtesy: REUTERS/Rogan Ward/File Photo

Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema on Wednesday expressed concern at the rate of intake of the COVID-19 vaccine by citizens in the country.

The Zambian president said that despite the country placing the vaccine program on the list of mitigation measures, the country has only managed to vaccinate about three percent of its eligible population since April 14, 2021 when the program started.

This, he said, was against the country’s target of vaccinating 70 percent of the eligible population from 18 years and above by the third quarter of 2022.

“It is fair to state that recovery from the pandemic hinges upon mass vaccinations before considering other reforms or facilities that tend to fail when countries lock down their economies,” he said in his address to the 76th Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in the early hours of Wednesday.

He expressed gratitude that the UN General Assembly will consider building on vaccine initiatives such as the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX).

According to him, the two initiatives have made it possible for low-income countries like Zambia to access life-saving vaccines which will contribute to building resilience and recovery from the pandemic.

The Zambian leader however called for enhanced global efforts toward promoting investments in local manufacturing capacity and technology transfer on vaccines, related infrastructure as well as research and development.

The pandemic, he said, has had a far-reaching socio-economic impact globally including disturbing trade flows, supply chains and various economic activities.

Zambia, he said, has developed a national preparedness and response plan for the pandemic which has been used to guide the implementation of mitigation measures, with the vaccine program forming an integral part of the response plan.

The Ministry of Health will next week launch a heightened vaccination campaign aimed at encouraging more people to get vaccinated.

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