Epworth residents, high-risk groups on the peripheries of Covid-19 vaccination drive

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Residents and high-risk groups in the dormitory town south-east of Harare have urged the Epworth Local Board (ELB) to set up more satellite centres to speed up Covid-19 vaccination.

The dormitory suburb has only three Covid-19 vaccination centres to share among a population of more than 350 000.

Some residents have to walk as far as eight kilometres on foot to the nearest centre. Some with disabilities say this has alienated them from the vaccination process.

“I failed to get vaccinated as I wished since the nearest centre for me is the Overspill clinic which is almost six kilometres from my home and I can’t walk on my own I have to get assistance from well-wishers to push my wheelchair and in most cases you won’t get such people in this community,” Obey Midzi said.

Obey is one of more than 3 000 people with living with disabilities in Epworth.

Speaking to Zim Morning Post, Henry Kane and director of Thisability Hub Zimbabwe said the centres were not enough to cover the population especially if the council wanted to involve people with disabilities.

“The centres are not enough for the population in Epworth and I think the ELB must introduce mobile clinics to improve the reach,” Kane said.

He added that the local authority had failed to localize Covid-19 awareness hence leaving the residents to only think that the vaccination centres are only available in Harare.

“Generally Epworth Local Board has a big challenge when it comes to access to information and information dissemination and this has been worse during the Covid-19. We are not informed by the local authority on Covid-19 and vaccination in Epworth and this is putting our lives at risk,” Kane said.

As the Zim Morning Post team travelled from Overspill shopping centre to Domboramwari Shopping centre, a distance of 12 kilometres there was neither a single poster nor billboard about Covid-19 vaccinations.

Kane says billboards, posters and fliers need to be a top priority in an area where half of the population own neither a radio nor a television set.

Epworth is mainly composed of people living in informal settlements.

Just like other residents in the dormitory suburb Kane feels abandoned by a local government that was set up 20 years ago as a way to decongest the City of Harare. 

“There has not been a flier to distribute by the local authority we also need information to be in accessible format for everyone for example braille for the visually impaired and sign language,” he said.

“A lot of misconceptions are circulating which leaves people unable to make informed decisions hence putting people with disabilities at risk hence the need for ELB and government to act with urgency,” he added.

Former legislator for Epworth Etheridge Kureva said there was need for ELB to take the lead in educating and informing its residents about Covid-19 vaccination as it had the responsibility of protecting its residents not to wait for the central government.

“Our council has not been doing anything in raising awareness on Covid-19 and now there is a program of vaccination in the area we have not heard an advert on radio or on social media on where people of Epworth can get their jabs,” Kureva said.

“There has been a lot of misinformation on Covid-19 and the council should be leading the front in getting people vaccinated, educating them on the importance of the vaccines so that it’s not only centred in Harare but they have neglected their role as a local authority,” Kureva added.

Kureva said the awareness program should be taken by the local council as they have a direct link with the people of Epworth and are managing the dormitory suburb.

This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union and Unesco.

Its contents are solely the responsibility of Fani Mapfumo and do not necessarily reflect the views of the EU.

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