President John Magufuli of Tanzania: Prayers, steam inhalation or herbal remedies were better than ‘dangerous’ foreign vaccines

President John Magufuli of Tanzania. Suggested reading: Covid 19 is Not, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist

Tanzania leader says prayer will cure Covid, as hospitals overflow

Source: The Guardian

Grieving relatives of Covid-19 victims, health experts and opposition politicians in Tanzania have accused President John Magufuli of causing thousands of deaths in the east African country and undermining the fight against the pandemic across the continent.

Magufuli has denied the local spread of Covid-19 in Tanzania, discouraged the mention of the disease by health workers, rejected most conventional measures in favour of prayer and said vaccines are dangerous, without offering any evidence.

Despite repeated requests by the World Health Organization, Tanzania has not published any statistics for Covid-19 cases since May, when it logged 509, and has no testing programme.

Zitto Kabwe, leader of the opposition ACT-Wazalendo party, said that his party had called on its members to document and report all deaths due to suspected Covid-19 so that it could hold the government to account.

“We don’t have data. There is no testing, so it’s very difficult to cut transmission. Local media have been afraid even to mention Covid-19. We just see hospitals being full,” he said.

A second wave, fuelled by a more transmissible variant of the virus originating in South Africa, has pushed infections across the continent to 3.8 million, with more than 100,000 deaths. The total is thought to be a significant underestimate.

The extent of any outbreak in Tanzania is unclear, but South Africa, which has roughly the same population, has suffered almost 50,000 deaths from Covid-19, according to official statistics, and many more according to excess mortality figures.

Last month, Tanzania’s chief government spokesman, Hassan Abbasi, told Reuters that, while the country was not entirely coronavirus-free, it had “controlled” the disease.

“There are people intermingling with the global world. But we don’t have local transmissions. That is why you are seeing everything is open, universities, sports, arts, markets, and you have not heard someone has fallen down publicly,” Abbasi said.

A doctor at the coronavirus testing centre in Zanzibar said that more than 80 cases had been recorded on the island from mid-December to early January. “But we are not allowed to release the data,” said the doctor. “We keep it for future use.”

The rise in cases has led to mixed messaging from the government.

The Zanzibar health ministry last week issued a public announcement asking people to avoid gatherings and “rush to a nearby hospital for testing if you feel you have difficulties in breathing”.

But officials denied this was because of Covid-19, saying they wanted to encourage people to take precautions because the number of people suffering breathing difficulties is increasing.

A health ministry official, Mabula Mchembe, visited hospitals in Dar es Salaam and stressed that there were no coronavirus patients, just “rumours which may cause unnecessary panic”.

Vaccination programmes are now under way or planned in most African countries, but not Tanzania.

In late January, Magufuli, who won a second term in October in an election marred by violence and allegations of fraud, said prayers, steam inhalation or herbal remedies were better than “dangerous” foreign vaccines.

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1 reply

  1. He’s behaving like the proverbial ostrich with its head buried in sand!!!!

    The country does not have enough hospitals so many of the patients are being taken to neigbouring countries like Kenya and Uganda, etc.

    I feel sorry for these Tanzanians..

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