Updated: Apr 26, 2021
April 23, 2021, 18:00 PM--
Research reveals that Tanzanians concerned about their health
A recent survey conducted by Kasi Insight on the impact of COVID-19 on Africans across 7 African countries indicates that though some governments have controversial approaches, their citizens are aware of the health risks posed by COVID-19. There is no country where this is most evident than Tanzania where the government became infamous for its denial of the existence of the disease and downplayed its seriousness.
In February 2021 Tanzania’s Health Minister, Dr. Dorothy Gwajima, issued a statement that Tanzania had no plans to procure COVID vaccines. Despite the government’s long-standing position against COVID-19 testing, treatments, and vaccines; the citizens are clear that they are concerned about their health as 83% of Tanzanian respondents stated their willingness to take the vaccine if it were available in their country. This is significantly higher than the 51% of respondents from neighboring Kenya, who cited their willingness to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
In God We Trust - Why Tanzanians will not Test, Treat, or Vaccinate against COVID-19
Tanzania under former President John Magufuli had a very unique approach to COVID-19. A year ago, the then President, John Magufuli declared that Tanzania was COVID-free following three days of national prayers. Following this, the country stopped COVID-19 testing and reporting on COVID-19 cases and deaths. The government reopened schools and encouraged people to continue living life as normal, holding public religious and sporting events. This is confirmed in the Kasi Insight survey, where 68% of Tanzanians stated that they had not changed their lifestyle or daily routine, like wearing face masks, frequently washing hands, or sanitizing due to COVID-19, this is in contrast to only 27% of other African countries.
Tanzanians not buying into the government’s COVID- 19 denial
Though the country’s former President declared that the country was COVID-free since April 2020, citizens appear to have different beliefs. 7% of Tanzanian respondents in the Kasi Insight COVID-19 survey cited that they personally knew someone who had been diagnosed with coronavirus. This should not be possible in a country where there are no COVID-19 testing centers. Recently, Health Minister, Dr. Dorothy Gwajima, held a press briefing encouraging citizens to drink vegetable smoothies made of ginger, onion, lemon, and pepper to ward off coronavirus. However, the Tanzanian citizens are not taking the disease lightly as the majority are fearful of the disease. Two-thirds of Tanzanian respondents in the Kasi Insight survey believe COVID-19 to be one of the deadliest diseases in Africa.
Tanzanian citizens taking their health into their hands
The second wave of COVID appeared to have had a much greater impact on Tanzanians, as the Zanzibar health ministry issued a statement of n announcement that there had seen an increase in people suffering from ‘breathing difficulties, and an increase in the number of people dying of ‘pneumonia-related diseases, though they're still denied it was as a result of coronavirus. Despite the government stance Tanzanian respondents in the Kasi Insight survey appear to be more health-conscious as 82% of respondents cited that they had been to see a doctor in the past 3 months, significantly higher than the African country average of just 50%.
Next Steps for Tanzania – Hope to curb COVID-19 in Africa and the World.
There is some hope for a change in Tanzania’s COVID-19 strategy, which will benefit all Africans since most African countries share porous borders. As long as there is no COVID-19 program in Tanzania the virus will continue to endanger its citizens and work against the current vaccine rollout programs in neighboring countries and beyond.
Earlier this month, Tanzania’s new President Samia Suluhu Hassan, announced that she would be forming a COVID-19 committee to research the course Tanzania should follow against the pandemic, indicating a shift from President John Magufuli’s approach.
President Hassan has also suggested that the country may start publishing data on the number of positive COVID cases and that the government will take a more science-based approach to the response going forward.
KASI Insight COVID-19 Pulse
Interested in learning more about the KASI Insight COVID-19 Pulse dataset, click here, to gain access to the latest COVID-19 insights across Africa.
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