The same government that shut down anti-HIV programs in Tanzania out of fear of homosexuality has come out against Covid-19 vaccines for fear that such Western innovations are unsafe.
Tanzania’s health minister has declared that Covid-19 vaccines developed in the West have no place in Tanzania. Instead, she recommends that Tanzanians combat the virus by drinking a beverage flavored with ginger, garlic, lemon and pepper.
Similarly, Tanzanian President John Magufuli claimed last month, without evidence, that Covid-19 vaccines could be harmful. He alleged that people who had been vaccinated abroad brought Covid-19 with them when they returned to Tanzania.
Officials’ obstruction of efforts to combat Covid-19 are similar to the Tanzanian government’s obstruction of programs fighting a different virus — HIV — in 2017.
An anti-gay campaign that Magufuli launched in 2016 led to the closure in February 2017 of 40 privately run health centers that provided AIDS-related services.
Now Magufuli and other Tanzanian officials are clearing the way for the spread of Covid-19.
Tanzania ‘has no plans’ for vaccines, minister says
Tanzania has no plans to accept coronavirus vaccines and will rely instead on herbal remedies and improved hygiene to fight infections, the country’s health minister said this week.
The comments by Dorothy Gwajima follow the president’s evidence-free assertion last month that vaccines could be harmful to the population. Tanzanian leader John Magufuli has consistently downplayed the pandemic and his government stopped publishing case counts in May.
Speaking to reporters in the capital, Dodoma, on Monday, Gwajima, who was not wearing a mask, said that her ministry “has no plans to receive vaccines for covid-19.”
She said that the government has its own protocol for importing medicine and other medical supplies, which it will implement when it is sure that the products are safe — even as Western-made coronavirus vaccines began arriving elsewhere on the African continent.
Instead, Gwajima said, Tanzanians should wash their hands, exercise and eat nutritious food. Then, along with two aides, the health minister prepared and drank a concoction of ginger, garlic, lemon and pepper — a remedy she said, without evidence, would help fight the virus.
World Health Organization officials have publicly pushed back against the Tanzanian leadership, urging the government to ramp up health measures and prepare for the vaccine.
“We particularly encourage the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania to prepare for the vaccine, to put in place the preventive measures to protect their population and to share data on the covid-19 situation,” the WHO’s regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said last week.
“Science shows that #VaccinesWork,” Moeti said later in a tweet directed at Tanzanian leaders. “I encourage the government to prepare for a COVID vaccination campaign.”
The extent of the outbreak in Tanzania is unclear. But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the East African nation listed as Level 4, the highest on its scale warning travelers of covid-19 risks.
- No end in sight for Tanzania’s anti-LGBT crackdown (
- AIDS: Tanzania’s homophobia is killing people (
- Tanzania’s anti-LGBT crackdown: ‘If we won’t get services we will die’ (
- U.S. prohibits visits by anti-gay Tanzania official (
- Tanzania government disavows Monday’s anti-gay roundup (November 2018, 76crimes.com)
- EU says to review its relation with Tanzania over human rights, rule of law (November 2018, The Citizen)
- Tanzania governor wants to rid Dar es Salaam of every gay person (November 2018, Pink News)
- Thousands ‘living in fear’ after Tanzania calls on public to report gay people (October 2018, The Guardian)
- Protests surge as Tanzania jails anti-HIV lawyers; no charges (October 2017, 76crimes.com)
- In Tanzania, 13 people attending a meeting are arrested for allegedly promoting homosexuality; operations of a Global Fund SR are suspended (October 2017, Aidspan)
- Tanzania threatens to arrest all gay rights activists (June 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Global Fund-supported programs suspended amid Tanzanian government crackdown on LGBT community (March 2017, Aidspan)
- Tanzania ramps up anti-gay panic, risks HIV expansion (February 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Homophobia Explodes In Tanzania, Health Minister Threatens ‘Gay List’ (February 2017, The Advocate)
- Seeking to limit gay sex, Tanzania bans lubricants (July 2016, 76crimes.com)