ZAMBIA Medical Association president Dr Chrispin Moyo says Zambia’s population is exposed to the COVID-19 because only 2 per cent of the targeted 60 per cent of the population has been vaccinated.

In an interview, Saturday, Dr Moyo said there was a need to intensify the vaccination process through other means before another wave hit the country.

“You know that our coverage in terms of vaccination is very low, so it is actually negligible if you look at the impact on the pandemic. With 2 per cent vaccine coverage, we are very very low in what is expected to conquer what is called immunity to the general population where we can say we have largely protected the population, we are very far. We should be talking about 50 per cent of coverage yet we are still at 2 per cent of coverage, so our population is exposed,” he said.

“We haven’t even started if you were to ask me with our interventions. It is a very big risk and like I said, we are very exposed as a country. We need to wrap up the vaccination. This thing of saying we have this vaccination centre here, people are not finding time to go and get vaccinated. We need to go out, we can go door to door and ensure that all the people that are eligible are vaccinated.”

Meanwhile, Dr Moyo wondered why doctors contracted under the World Bank project had their contracts terminated when the country was anticipating another wave.

“We need to ensure that the 700 or so health workers who were hired under the World Bank project and the other day they wrote to them that their contracts have been terminated. I think we need to revisit that kind of immediate response in the middle of this pandemic. I think we need to be very serious, those health workers need to be re-engaged, we need to adequately train them so that they form the backbone of our intervention in the front line,” he said.

“In the front line, we need those 700 people to be out there providing a service. This is not a time for us to be making such kinds of decisions, life is more precious and the Zambian people need quality services. So part of the health system strengthening to manage COVID requires that we have enough and adequate properly trained human resources, and here we are in the middle of the pandemic. We are now dismissing 700 doctors who were hired and we have also predicted that there is another wave coming.”

Dr Moyo said the country’s health system was fragile.

“Our health system is fragile and if we put it under stress by taking up the resources that are required for managing other equally serious conditions, it’s going to have effects on other conditions. Therefore, I think we need to have put emphasis on prevention to ensure that our borders become more secure than what they were because we are just a yawning country where anyone can walk in and walk out. We need to ensure the health system is better prepared to handle any eventuality. We need to make sure we have people who are properly trained who are on standby and they are able to provide the services in their respective jurisdiction,” he said.

He, however, commended President Hakainde Hichilema’s decision to appoint a special COVID-19 advisor.

“We know that the fourth wave is predicted to hit around December and the President is on firm ground to sound a clarion call that we need to be fully prepared and we have seen from the actions that he has appointed a special advisor at State House to coordinate the efforts. I think this is commendable for us as ZMA, we commend the elevation of that response to that level because it helps to harness resources and also helps more interventions in a rapid manner,” said Dr Moyo.

“We are in an emergency, yes there is Ministry of Health, yes, there is ZNHPI, these are all going to be marshalled with the coordinating body that has been created in the office of the President in the interim and eventually we hope these roles will be transferred back to line ministries and line agencies.”