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The Chanzo’s Morning Briefing – June 25, 2021

In our briefing, today: Dar intensifies efforts against COVID-19; Bugando lost two medical specialist in a week; Ministry of Health launched the fifth health sector strategic plan; LHRC tells off Tabora’s police for trying to tamper with evidence; Tegeta Escrow Scandal journalist dies; Zanzibar: about 1.4 people to be vaccinated against COVID-19

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Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Thursday, June 24, 2021.

Dar intensifies efforts against COVID-19

Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Mr Amos Makalla yesterday directed all district commissioners in the region, the security organs and heads of both public and private institutions to make sure that people in Dar es Salaam follow all World Health Organisation (WHO)-COVID-19 guidelines as the government ramps up its efforts to combat the spread of the deadly disease in the country. Mr Makala emphasized on mask wearing, hand washing with an alcohol-based hand rub or running water with soap and has advised businesses to make sure they have temperature checking tools and hand washing facilities in their premises. Mr Makala encouraged members of the public to visit health centres whenever they see symptoms of COVID-19.

Mr Makalla’s directives come within a few days since the government said that Tanzania faces the third wave of COVID-19, warning its citizens to take all necessary precautions to combat the spread of the global pandemic. Addressing journalists in Dar es Salaam on Saturday, Director of Prevention from the Ministry of Health Dr Leonard Subi said: “The ministry reminds all citizens not to ignore COVID-19. The ministry has begun to see indications of the occurrence of the third wave. This is due to the monitoring being carried out by the ministry and the interaction between our people and other nations.

“Let me assure all the citizens that the [regional] government [of Dar es Salaam] is well prepared to deal with COVID-19 by making sure that our hospitals are well supplied with medical equipment necessary in the fight against the pandemic,” said Mr Makalla. “And we will try our level best to make sure that we increase the number of equipment and services needed. If it is oxygen, we will make sure that it is abundantly available.”

Bugando lost two medical specialists in a week

Bugando hospital has announced the death of another medical specialist,  Dr. Daniel W Gunda, internal medicine specialist, Dr. Gunda’s death was announced yesterday by the Bugando college Vice-Chancellor. This is the second death in one week, on June 17, 2021, Bugando hospital had announced the death of Dr. Ronald Willian Hodge who was a neurosurgeon at the hospital. Dr. Hodge who is a Cuban by origin and he was in Tanzania for a mission, several media outlets in Cuba (here, here, and here) have reported that the death of the late Dr. Hodge was from a COVID-19 complication, leading to the outpouring of grief from the Cuban social media.

Ministry of Health launched the fifth health sector strategic plan

The Ministry of Health has on yesterday launched the fifth Tanzania health sector strategic plan. The said 2021-2025 plan has five key areas, first to improve health care services; to strengthen preparedness to epidemics and emergencies; to improve the national health insurance fund coverage; to increase investment in the health and to strengthen the performance of health systems.

“The sixth government has intended to strengthen the National Health Insurance Fund to attain universal health coverage, as of now only 14 percent of Tanzanians use health insurance, this is not right,” said the Minister of Health Dorothy Gwajima. Stakeholders have also acknowledged government effort in the strategic plan development, ‘we commend the government of Tanzania for concluding this strategic plan in time and we acknowledge how the government has involved stakeholders who invest in the health sector during the development of this strategic plan, the plan will coordinate our participation in achieving  health goals in the next five years’ said Andrew Karas USAID Tanzania director who spoke on behalf of the development stakeholders.

LHRC tells off Tabora’s police for trying to tamper with evidence

Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) yesterday condemned the alleged evidence tampering done by Tabora police and other regional government officials in a case against former Kaliua district commissioner Mr Abel Busalama whom LHRC accuses of being responsible for the death of a four-year-old girl Nyanzobhe Mwandu which took place on June 16, 2021, in Kombe, a village in the Kaliua district, Tabora region.

Reports indicate that acting in the capacity of a district commissioner, Mr Busalama ordered police officers as well as officers from the Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA), a government agency charged with taking care of game reserves among other tasks, to burn down a house in which the young Nyanzobhe was in, leading to her death.

Nyanzobhe’s home was one among more than thirty houses surrounding the Ngitiri village that was recently made a national park by Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) and thus ordered to be demolished and their occupants vacate. Two teams from the office of the Prime Minister and the National Defence and Security Committee are investigating the case to establish what actually happened.

However, LHRC said in a statement Thursday that police in Tabora are tampering with evidence by dismissing Mwandu’s death in the media as well as harassing people working on the ground to ensure justice is served. LHRC specifically mentioned Tabora regional police commander Sofia Jongo who during a morning program at a local community radio called CG FM called the death of Mwandu a fictional one, adding that it never happened.

LHRC also said that it was informed that on June 23, 2021, police in Tabora arrested Mr Juma Salaza, who’s assistant secretary to Kaliua Member of Parliament Mr Alyoce Andrew Kwezi (Chama cha Mapinduzi – CCM) accusing him of disseminating the news about Mwandu’s death to public and confiscated his mobile phone.

“[LHRC] condemns such behaviour shown by police and call on the leaders of Tabora regional government to immediately stop tampering with evidence,” Anna Henga, LHRC executive director, said in a statement. “[They] should let investigation conducted by appointed organs to proceed independently. It is our hope that the government will finalise the investigation as early as possible so that people who have been left without settlement can proceed with their lives like other Tanzanians.”

Tegeta Escrow Scandal journalist dies

Tanzania’s media fraternity lost one of its dedicated and committed journalists following the death of Mr Mkinga Mkinga who passed away on June 24, 2021, at the Muhimbili Orthopedic Institute (MOI) where he has been hospitalized since June 20, 2021.

During his life as a journalist, Mr Mkinga took part in major investigative projects that revealed massive corruption in the government of Tanzania’s management of taxpayers’ money, including a series of investigative stories in the now-famous Tegeta Escrow Scandal.

Mkinga’s journalism brought him both local and international recognition, winning awards such as the 2015-Excellence in Journalism Award (EJAT) on investigative journalism from the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT).

ACT-Wazalendo party leader Zitto Kabwe, who worked very closely with Mr Mkinga during the Tegeta Escrow Scandal as a member of parliament and also as the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairperson described Mkinga as a “young journalist gone too soon” in a Twitter post yesterday.

Mkinga was born on August 12, 1982, in Chato, Geita. He joined Jamhuri Media Limited in May 2016 after having worked with several other media outlets in Tanzania including The Citizen and Uhuru newspapers.

Zanzibar: about 1.4 people to be vaccinated against COVID-19

Zanzibar’s Health Minister Nassor Ahmed Mazrui told Bloomberg Thursday that the semi-autonomous archipelago aims to inoculate about 1.4 million people against COVID-19, pulling ahead of the mainland as it seeks to save its tourism-reliant economy. Children as young as ten will be eligible for the injections in the islands of 1.6 million people, Mr Mazrui said according to Bloomberg.

Mr Mazrui said that Zanzibar is working with an advisory committee appointed by President Samia Hassan to determine which vaccines should be procured. Mazrui said the shots would be administered depending on their availability and funding. He told The Citizen newspaper on Wednesday that Zanzibar is waiting for President Samia’s approval to order the shots for the isles’ residents and that once the president has approved the vaccine they will order it immediately.

Tanzania has submitted a formal request to the Covax vaccine-sharing facility for inoculations this month. It also asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for $571 million last month to help the economy recover from the effects of the pandemic.

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