Government has said myths surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine can be cleared quickly if churches took part in the popularisation of the remedy.
Minister of Information Gospel Kazako said churches are better agents of change as such, if involved in the popularisation of the vaccine, people will accept it by the time it rolls out next month.
He said this in Lilongwe on Thursday, during an interface meeting between the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 and church leaders organised by Act Alliance, Christian Aid and Malawi Interfaith Aids Association (Miaa) to create a platform where the two sides can work together in the fight against the pandemic
“If we can work together to spread the truth about the Covid-19 vaccine, it will not burden us much to convince people,” he said.
Co-chairperson of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 Dr John Phuka said the vaccine which Malawi has recommended [Astra Zeneca] will be rolled out in March using a targeted approach.
“In the first phase, which will cover 20 percent of the targeted population of 11 million, we will target frontline health workers, the elderly and those that have special health conditions because they are more vulnerable,” said Phuka.
He said government is targeting to vaccinate 11 million people of which 3.8 million will be covered by the Covax facility whereas government will look for resources to cover the remaining 7.2 million people.
Phuka added that Malawi is still experiencing fluctuating statistics in new cases, recoveries and deaths, “signifying that the battle is still on”.
Miaa chairperson Bishop Gilford Matonga said churches are ready to play their role, but it depends on government to give them the right information to tell the people.
Christian Aid country director Luke Theu said the meeting was also organised to validate the Covid-19 joint faith community response framework which seeks to bring uniformity in messages churches spread about the pandemic.
In a related development, Phuka took the same message to a meeting with traditional leaders, faith groups and councils in Blantyre on Friday, where he underscored the importance of community engagement in demystifying myths and misconceptions.
“People are creating unnecessary anxiety through misconceptions, we want the traditional and faith leaders to help us communicate to the masses the rightful information, encourage their followers to continue following preventive measures as well as improve our healthcare-seeking behaviour,” said Phuka.
Senior chief Chikumbu of Mulanje said there is so much negativity surrounding the vaccine, leading to a great number of the population in our areas resisting the development.
Among others, the delegates also appealed for the translation of the gazetted Covid-19 preventive measures into local languages for easy understanding by the masses.