AT THE LAUNCHING CEREMONY OF THE NATIONAL COVID-19 VACCINATION CAMPAIGN
VENUE: STATE HOUSE, BANJUL
DATE: WEDNESDAY, 10TH MARCH 2021
Friends and Partners of The Gambia,
We are here today to launch The Gambia’s National Vaccination Campaign against the COVID-19pandemic.
A year ago, the country officially recorded the first case of COVID-19. At present, the infection rate stands close to five thousand cases, hence the restrictions imposed recently. Although most of those infected have recovered, unfortunately, over one hundred and fifty deaths have been recorded countrywide.
The pandemic has crossed all borders and boundaries of gender, age, status and other characteristics. Like other sectors, not even the frontline defenders in health or the security have been spared.
Our national scenario reflects the global situation, with loss of loved ones, friends and citizens both inthe country and the Diaspora.
The pandemic has taken its toll on virtually everyone, emotionally, socially, economically or otherwise.
It is a relief, therefore, that suitable vaccines have been discovered, tested and approved by reliable experts. I am sure all of us wish that the vaccineswere discovered earlier to save more lives.
Thankfully, The Gambia has received thirty-six thousand (36,000) doses of AstraZeneca Vaccine under the Covax package. This is remarkable!
Let me reassure you that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine for the prevention and control of COVID-19.
On behalf of the Government and People of The Gambia, I express sincere gratitude to the Global Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF and WHO for this important development.
Also, we have received ten thousand (10,000) doses of the Sino-Pharma vaccine from the Government of Senegal. I thank my brother, His Excellency, President Macky Sall, for this kind gesture.
In another development, the World Bank has provided resources to procure up to forty per cent (40%) of the country’s vaccine requirement. It will complement the twenty per cent (20%) already secured through the Covax arrangement.
The first batch of this lot is available, and will be rolled out today.
This is a positive step towards realising my government’s urgent and passionate desire for full protection of every citizen against COVID-19.
In launching the COVID-19 vaccination campaign today, priority will be given to those who are highlyat risk and the most vulnerable segments of the population.
These are the frontline health workers, those agedsixty-five (65) and above, and people with health conditions. With the arrival of more vaccines, the campaign will be expanded to include other segments of the population.
Meanwhile, the Government is working with other partners, such as MRC Gambia and Africa Centrefor Disease Control, to secure additional doses to meet the estimated national requirement.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I express gratitude to Red Cross and the volunteers as well as individual Gambians who all have contributed immensely in the fight against COVID.
Government hails with much appreciation the efforts of the internal technical experts committees, including our well experienced retired and serving senior Gambian health professionals who have served in various capacities both locally and international.
We are grateful to our partners and friends for supporting us to fight the pandemic, and recover from its effects in order to focus on building a stronger nation.
To recover from the pandemic and revive our economy, we have to work together as a nation at community and national level. Together, we shouldtake leadership and responsibility for building a healthy and strong nation.
Knowing that the coronavirus knows no boundary, let us not relent. Despite the availability of vaccines, new variants of the virus continue to emerge around the world, which should compel us to remain vigilant.
We must continue to act responsibly, and ensure that we wear a mask properly in public, wash our hands regularly, avoid handshaking and practise physical distancing.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
By taking an inoculation shot, I graciously and proudly declare the National COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign for The Gambia launched.
I thank you for your attention.