Most private healthcare practitioners in Namibia are in strong support of making Covid-19 vaccines compulsory by law.
This is according to a recent survey by the Namibia Private Practitioners’ Forum (NPPF) of over 1 700 healthcare providers in Namibia.
The NPPF, a non-profit organisation with private sector healthcare providers from all disciplines as members, conducted what they termed as “likely the biggest survey ever held amongst Namibian healthcare providers”.
The initiative for the survey originated from substantial debate amongst NPPF members on issues regarding Covid-19 vaccine safety and efficacy, the use of Ivermectin to treat Covid-19 and Covid-19 rapid test kits.
Just over 400 healthcare practitioners completed the survey, with the results showing that 49% agreed with legally compulsory vaccination, 37% not agreeing with such a measure and 14% remaining neutral on the question.
“The NPPF is strongly against such a draconian measure, as it will most likely infringe on basic human rights and be unconstitutional.
In addition, forcing people to take a vaccine might set a dangerous precedent where government control overrides individuals’ freedom of choice to exercise agency and control over their own bodies. The NPPF does, however, support an informed vaccination drive through public awareness campaigns, education and even incentivisation (where it is appropriate and necessary),” read a statement from NPPF CEO Dr Dries Coetzee.
The survey results further showed an overwhelming trust that the vaccines prevent people from becoming seriously ill from Covid-19.
Respondents, at 77%, somewhat or strongly trust the vaccines, 8% were neutral and 15% somewhat or strongly distrust that the vaccines prevent serious illness.
Respondents also indicated strong support that the positive effect of vaccines outweighs the risks in such vaccines.
“Seventy-four per cent agree or strongly agree that the positive effect outweighs the risk, 15% were neutral and 11% disagree or strongly disagree that the positive effect outweighs the risk,” read the statement.
Meanwhile, of those healthcare practitioners who advise patients on vaccines, 95% advise patients to be vaccinated and 5% advise against getting vaccinated.
Of all those who advise against the vaccine, two are concerned about adverse consequences, which may not be officially reported; two reported that in their personal experience, the vaccines are not efficient in preventing serious illness.
Moreover, 10 of the respondents are concerned about possible long-term side effects and two believe there is a global conspiracy around the seriousness of Covid-19, pushed by some unknown parties with an ulterior agenda.
The survey further showed that the majority of healthcare providers (62%) received at least the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine while 26% who have not been vaccinated are still waiting for an opportunity to get a vaccine.
Some 12% of surveyed healthcare providers have not and do not intend to get vaccinated.
“Healthcare providers are fairly evenly split on the beneficial use of Ivermectin to prevent Covid-19, with the most telling statistic, as set out hereunder, the opinion of the medical specialists who hold a strong opinion on the matter, with only one strongly agreeing that Ivermectin is beneficial for preventing Covid-19 and 14 specialists strongly disagreeing that ivermectin is beneficial for the prevention of Covid-19,” read Coetzee’s statement.
He continued there is slightly more support for the use of Ivermectin as treatment for Covid-19 as opposed to its use for prevention of Covid-19.
Furthermore, most healthcare providers (52%) have not and will not – until new studies persuade them otherwise – prescribe Ivermectin to their patients in reaction to Covid-19.
The survey indicated that 17% have prescribed Ivermectin before and will continue to do so, while 8% have prescribed it before but have in the meantime changed their mind and will not continue to do so.
Only 23% have not prescribed Ivermectin before but do not rule out the possibility of doing so when the need arises.
In June, a group of 30 doctors in Namibia appealed to the health ministry and the Namibia Medicines Regulatory Council (NMRC) to approve Ivermectin as a Covid-19 therapy. Ivermectin is used to treat or prevent parasites in animals.
The survey also pinpointed strong support, mostly among pharmacists and medical specialists, for making rapid test kist more widely available to the public, and for own use at home and businesses.
Some 59% support this, 30% do not support this and 11% are neutral on the issue, according to the survey.
“There is general optimism that the Covid-19 situation in Namibia will be somewhat better within six months from now, although 23% of healthcare providers foresee that matters may become somewhat worse to much worse,” Coetzee stated.