Tanzania’s efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 continue to gain momentum under President Samia Suluhu Hassan.
With assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the country established a project in early September called Strengthening COVID-19 Case Management in Regional Referral Hospitals. It aims to improve health care for critically ill COVID-19 patients.
The $750,000, 10-month project will support Dodoma Regional Referral Hospital in Dodoma, Bombo Regional Referral Hospital in Tanga, Mount Meru Regional Referral Hospital in Arusha and Sekou Toure Regional Referral Hospital in Mwanza.
The money will help procure oxygen therapy equipment and provide training for health care workers to use and maintain it. The U.S. has invested $25.1 million in Tanzania’s COVID-19 response.
“This support includes mitigating the impact of the pandemic on society, … reducing morbidity and mortality from COVID-19, and preventing and mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 on our AIDS relief programs and beneficiaries,” USAID Project Management Specialist Dr. Miriam Kombe said in a news release. “The COVID-19 pandemic is among the most pressing challenges to the health, well-being and economic security of all people. We must work together to address this pandemic with urgency.”
Late President John Magufuli’s response to the pandemic was anything but urgent. An outspoken COVID-19 denier, he died in March. President Hassan began focusing on the pandemic shortly after taking office.
In mid-April, Hassan announced that she had formed a task force of health experts to advise her on handling the pandemic and called on religious leaders to preach about the realities of COVID-19 to their worshippers. Magufuli had urged his countrymen to pray the disease away.
Tanzania released data on COVID-19 in late June — for the first time in more than a year. The data was released as the country experienced a third wave of infections.
As part of a $567 million emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund to combat COVID-19, Tanzania is required to publish its data. According to the Africa Centres for Disease control and Prevention, Tanzania reported 25,647 COVID-19 cases and 714 deaths as of September 27.
Despite new efforts to control the pandemic, Tanzania has struggled to persuade some skeptics that the disease is real. Felista Mauya, director of empowerment and accountability with the Legal and Human Rights Center, addressed the matter in an interview with Voice of America .
“We continue to emphasize that citizens and the whole society should continue to observe precautions by washing hands, wearing masks and observing social distancing,” Mauya said. She added that people “should focus on the guidelines and statements that our leaders are issuing following all the health guidelines, and we can fight the virus.”