CHRR calls for removal of national ID requirement for people to access COVID-19 vaccines

The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has urged the Ministry of Health to urgently remove the mandatory requirement for Malawians to present national ID cards before receiving COVID-19 vaccines.

In a statement released today, CHRR Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa said reports that people who do not have national identity cards (IDs) are being denied access to COVID-19 vaccines are disturbing.

Kayaitsa said the current data shows that over 3 million Malawians do not have national IDs.

He added that if the mandatory requirement is maintained, it means millions of Malawians would miss out on the vaccine, which will be too bad for a country that is already struggling to get more people to get the jab.

“Statistics show that less than 2 percent of the country’s population are fully vaccinated. In a country where uptake of COVID-19 vaccines is that low, it is vital that authorities should be removing all obstacles and structural barriers, like the national ID requirement, to ensure that more people access the vaccines,” he explained.

According to Kaiyatsa, while they understand that the national ID maybe necessary for capturing data, it is violation of human rights to deny people who do not have the ID access to the vaccines.

He noted that access to health services, including COVID vaccines, is a basic human right and should, therefore, not be conditioned upon possessing national IDs.

He also said that COVID-19 does not discriminate between those with national IDs and those without.

“Currently, millions of Malawians are without national IDs, not because of choice, but because of administration challenges in processing the national IDs. There are also many Malawians who cannot afford a national ID due to costs that government charges to process the IDs.Then there are people who face difficulties accessing the national ID due to mobility challenges (as is often the case for persons with disabilities and elderly).

“Therefore, maintaining the national ID requirement for accessing vaccines will unfairly disadvantage those who cannot afford the national IDs, which will in turn end up deepening already existing inequalities in our society.
The Constitution is clear about non-discrimination. Under section 20(1) of the Constitution, discrimination in any form is prohibited,” said Kaiyatsa.

In Malawi, 750,138 vaccine doses has been administered in the country so far.

Ministry of Health data shows that 464,633 and 164,546 people have received the first dose and second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine respectively while 120,959 people have received Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

The country has registered a total of 58,465 COVID-19 cases.

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