Majoro sets vaccination target

Majoro sets vaccination target
Majoro sets vaccination target

Africa-Press – Lesotho. PRIME Minister Moeketsi Majoro wants every eligible citizen to be vaccinated against coronavirus by Christmas, as the country makes a push to protect Basotho ahead of the hectic festive season.

Lesotho recorded a spike in infections and deaths during and after the last Christmas holidays when thousands of Basotho working in South Africa trekked back home to be with their families.

Last Saturday, Majoro took delivery of 108 000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines, a development that should improve the country’s stock. The Prime Minister said Lesotho should use up the stock fast in order for the African Union Vaccine Acquisition Trust (Avat) to allocate more vaccines to the country.

“I wish to implore the Ministry of Health, working with its partners, including the Lesotho private sector, to expedite the vaccination programme so that all Basotho in the country and in South Africa are fully vaccinated by Christmas,” Majoro said.

Thousands of Basotho work in South Africa and usually return home at the end of year, often using undesignated entry points and making it difficult for the country to enforce tests and other measures.

South Africa is Africa’s epicenter of the virus, a situation that leaves Lesotho and its people vulnerable. “For every shipment that lands in Lesotho, there are so many hardworking people in Lesotho and in other countries labouring in the background to ensure that we are vaccinated,” he said.

“Basotho are very thankful for their efforts.

He was referring in part to Vodacom Lesotho, Letšeng Diamonds, and Sesiu, which contributed to the purchase of the vaccines. Vodacom Lesotho contributed about M14.9 million for the vaccines.

This batch follows the shipments of 72 000 doses of AstraZeneca from Covax and 302 000 doses of Johnson & Johnson from the United States earlier. Last week’s consignment was the first shipment from the African Union Avat initiative and also the first to be fully paid for using cash from Lesotho.

Majoro said the Avat Team has indicated that Lesotho will each month receive a similar amount until the country’s 1.6 million dose order has been fulfilled. He said Lesotho is poised to secure another 100 000 J&J doses in the next two weeks.

Vodacom Lesotho said in a statement that the consignment is the culmination of a March 29 pledge of about M14.9 million by the telecoms giant Group Chief Executive Officer, Shameel Joosub.

“The donation formed part of Lesotho’s $10 million (about M149 million) order made through the Avat process and also receiving contributions from private sector organisations, development partners and the government,” the statement reads.

“On its own, Vodacom has purchased approximately 133 000 doses,” the firm said.

Speaking at the brief reception ceremony, Mohale Ralebitso, Vodacom Lesotho’s Managing Director, said Vodacom Lesotho is “delighted to be part of this important gesture to strengthen the health resilience and protection against the Covid-19 pandemic for the people of Lesotho”.

“We are conscious of the critical interventions that the private sector can make to the health condition of Basotho,” Ralebitso said.

“We wish to continue making our humble presence felt in the health and other sectors through our Vodacom Lesotho Foundation to ensure that we make a difference in the lives of the communities within which we operate,” he said.

The vaccines are expected to accelerate Lesotho’s roll out of its vaccination plan, which has so far benefitted from two 36 000 consignments of the AU-backed AstraZeneca vaccines and the generous assistance by the American people.

It is expected that Lesotho will vaccinate its total eligible population of 1.4 million, according to its 3-phase vaccination plan. The latest vaccine consignment should ensure that the country moves to vaccinate population categories such as teachers, border personnel, armed forces, factory workers and the general public.

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