President Hage Geingob believes the continuous classification of Namibia by the World Bank as an upper-middle-income country was working against it when it comes to procuring vaccines to strengthen the fight against Covid-19. Geingob yesterday pointed out that the country’s classification presents challenges with regard to vaccination procurement. A number of developed and rich nations have already rolled out Covid-19 vaccines to their citizens, while many poor countries, including Namibia, are yet to receive a single dose thus far.
Geingob has used many international fora to lament the country’s classification as upper-middle-income, saying this position was superficial and did not reflect the true state of the economy, whose wealth lies in the hands of a minority cabal but is mathematically applied to all citizens.
“I have been fighting this classification that Namibia is not an upper-middle-income country. We are not rich. We are as poor as any other African country. We are not rich. The majority of the population is poor,” Geingob reacted in support of World Health Organisation’s country representative in Namibia Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses’ sentiments on Namibia’s classification at State House yesterday.
Sagoe-Moses had indicated Namibia’s classification was disadvantaging it. “Namibia happens to be classified as an upper-middle-income class. So other countries are classified as poor and rich countries are paying vaccines for these poor nations. The vaccines are coming. Most countries received their vaccines. There is a kind of demand and supply issue,” Sagoe-Moses emphasised.
He added that between 15-20 African countries have acquired their vaccines from the Covax facility, but was quick to clarify that no country will be discriminated against in terms of the WHO vaccination roll-out programme.
“It doesn’t mean if you are poor, you won’t get the vaccine. If you don’t get the vaccine today, it doesn’t mean you won’t get it tomorrow. It doesn’t mean if I am safe, then you are safe. Everyone will have to get the vaccine,” he said.
Namibia is yet to receive a single dose of the Covid-19 vaccination while some other countries, including Botswana and Angola, took delivery of their first batch of vaccines procured through the Covax scheme.
Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula explained the delay was mainly due to the pharmaceutical products that took a long time to be registered and be approved by the Namibia Medical Regulatory Council.
According to him, this process took long as the regulatory body also had to determine the side effects of these vaccines Namibia plans to acquire.
“That process took longer. There is a scramble for vaccines in the world. The big countries produce for their people and you at the receiving end will remain. We are following the situation in all development when it comes to vaccines. The supply outstrips the demand. As of now, we are ready to receive the vaccine,” Shangula noted.
Namibia is expected to take delivery of nearly 130 000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine later this month through Covax. Apart from the Covax facility, Namibia is in discussion with manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines in China, Russia, India, and the United States for additional vaccine supply to cover the remaining 40% of the population.
Geingob recently announced the Indian government has pledged 30 000 doses of vaccine from the Serum Institute of India, while the Chinese pledged 100 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine.