Malawians of Asian origin made an arrangement for an exclusive Covid-19 vaccination programme at a clinic in Blantyre.
Whistleblower Idris Ali Nassah revealed the arrangement on Facebook today saying the vaccination exercise was expected to be conducted at Malmed Clinic this morning.
“I hear members of the Indian/Asian community have reserved an hour (9:30 to 10:30 am) exclusively for themselves to get the jab. Black people will be attended to later, the communication says,” said Nassah.
A message purportedly authored by the clinic said there was an arrangement for “a hassle free AZ (AstraZeneca) vaccination” where the first hour would be “dedicated to the Indians”.
The communication added that the exercise was organized by the Indian Community in town and health workers from Blantyre District Health Office had been hired to administer the vaccine with the promise that they would be paid allowances.
The revelations led to backlash from social media users who described the arrangement as racist.
“This is racism and we cannot allow it on our soil. I hope the leaders of the Asian community will take steps to ensure that this nonsense is avoided at all costs, as we Malawians will never allow it to happen on our soil,” said social commentator Onjezani Kenani.
Ombudsman Martha Chizuma said her office would institute an investigation into the arrangement.
“It is something that needs to be further inquired into to understand what exactly was the thought process to arriving at that arrangement. And I will do exactly that,” said Chizuma.
The programme was cancelled following the intervention of Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda who said government will not entertain such exclusive arrangements.
Said Kandodo: “The Astrazeneca vaccine is for all Malawians and for free. No special arrangements will be entertained, no allowance to the vaccinators is allowed, let’s get it from the approved health institutions.”
Meanwhile, the Blantyre District Office has released a statement refuting any arrangement with Malmed Clinic.
Director of Health and Social Services in Blantyre Gift Kawalazira said in the statement that vaccination exercise in the district will start on Monday March 22 and will only be done in Government and CHAM health facilities.