PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan has revealed plans of instituting a committee of experts to review the country’s Covid-19 response and advise the government accordingly.
The president, who was speaking during an event to swear-in newly-appointed permanent secretaries, deputy permanent secretaries and heads of public entities at State House, Dar es Salaam, insisted that Tanzania couldn’t afford isolating itself as if it were an island.
She however, cautioned that the country wouldn’t nod to everything brought by international communities as far as the pandemic was concerned.
“I think it is imperative to have a committee of experts to look at it professionally and then advise the government… it is not wise to remain silent, reject or accept anything to do with Covid-19 without scientific and professional research,” she said.
President Samia said the country wouldn’t continue relying on outside reports on the pandemic, and that as a country, Tanzania needs to have a clear and understandable position regarding the pandemic so that it can make informed decisions.
Tanzania was last year declared coronavirus free, with the government casting doubts on the efficacy of vaccines, while proposing the use of alternative therapies and local remedies such the steam therapy to deal with cases of illness.
The government rejected the call to lockdown the country. In another development, President Samia tasked the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Dr Abel Makubi and his deputy Dr John Jingu to ensure improvement of health services.
She also tasked them to address shortages of essential medicines in public health facilities, saying during the burial of the late President John Magufuli in Chato, Geita region, one of the elders lamented that they (elders) are not receiving free medication as reported.
President Samia noted that the Medical Store Department (MSD) was facing shortage of medicines, saying some unscrupulous health practitioners or persons authorised to handle the medical supplies were causing the shortage.
The president demanded this problem to be quickly fixed.
“Currently, there is a shortage of medical supplies especially at the regional and district level. I know that some unscrupulous practitioners including medical officers in charge are involved in loss of medicines… let them be warned,” said President Samia.
Experts say shortages of essential medicines in public health facilities are a major issue in Tanzania that has persisted despite increasing attention to these issues and numerous reform attempts and initiatives.
In a report on political economy approach to analysing problems and identifying solutions jointly published by Joseph Wales, Julia Tobias, Emmanuel Malangalila, Godfrey Swai and Leni Wil, they say, medicine stock-outs in Tanzania are the result of not only resource constraints and technical problems, but a series of political logics that allow and reinforce short-term policy making, weak oversight and a lack of meaningful accountability.
They argued that resolving the problem of stock-outs will not be achieved by any one single set of solutions, but rather the creation of the conditions in which a coalition of actors can work together on these issues.