By Anna Chibamu
VICE President and Health Minister Constantino Chiwenga has reiterated government’s position that no Covid-19 vaccination shall be imposed on any citizen unwilling to be part of the world inoculation process.
Addressing guests on the commemoration of the World Cancer Day held virtually on Thursday, Chiwenga said China has pledged Covid-19 vaccines to Zimbabwe at a time the country has put in place its own initiatives to acquire the life-saving drug.
The VP’s comments also sought to clarify the confusion that followed finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s earlier remarks that locals who can afford would be asked to pay for the vaccines.
However, Ncube followed his statements with a Thursday announcement his “comments on payment issues regarding Covid-19 vaccines were taken out of context”.
Chiwenga, in his Thursday remarks, put the issue beyond further doubt when he said no citizen shall be made to pay for the vaccines.
“My fellow Zimbabweans, let me reiterate also that the government of Zimbabwe will roll out Covid-19 vaccines for free to all our citizens who may wish to be vaccinated.
“The policy is inspired by humane morals that life should not be bought,” he said.
The health minister also warned about the threat posed by non-communicable diseases (NDCs) such as cancer, diabetes, HIV (Aids), hypertension and other chronic health conditions or injuries.
“It is sad to note that patients beset with immuno-suppression (a condition caused by NCDs) are more susceptible to Covid-19,” he added.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), cancer is the leading cause of worldwide deaths having claimed 9.6 million lives in 2018 and only surpassed by Covid-19.
In Zimbabwe, according to Cancer registry, 2 751 people died of the dreaded disease in 2016.
In 2020, 110 686 women were screened for Cervical Cancer. Out of the 5 883 who tested positive, 4 561 were treated.