Covid-19: Guyana, Brazil collaborate for wider vaccination coverage

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Director-General of Guyana's Ministry of Health, Dr. Vishwa Mahadeo and Secretary of Health Surveillance and representative of the Ministry of Health, Brazil, Dr. Arnaldo Medeiros

Guyana and Brazil continue to face challenges in getting their population vaccinated against the deadly Coronavirus disease (Covid-19).  Challenges include difficulty accessing remote indigenous communities and vaccine hesitancy, due to false information circulating on social media.

This issue has led to a collaboration between the two governments, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for wider vaccination coverage across the countries.

Speaking on Wednesday during the launch of ‘Vaccination campaign in the Americas 2022’ in Bonfim, Brazil, the Director-General of Guyana’s Ministry of Health, Dr. Vishwa Mahadeo, M.P, said health workers play a critical role in persuading citizens to get vaccinated.

“We need to come up with new, better approaches because we, as health professionals, we, as health workers, we know what is right. It is our duty to convince that parent, to convince those who need to be vaccinated that vaccine is good, vaccine is safe, vaccine is necessary, not only for the individual but for the community at large,” Dr. Mahadeo explained.

He said it takes political commitments and a government that has the welfare of the citizens at heart, to come up with plans to address vaccination issues and provide funding to support programmes.

Addressing the COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Mahadeo said with both Guyana and Brazil pursuing an aggressive vaccination campaign, the results are seen with fewer positive cases and some level of normalcy.

The director-general also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught many countries about the importance of active surveillance. He said social media is ‘not our friend,’ as it is being used to the detriment of the people.

Additionally, he noted that “our government remains committed to the fight against vaccine-preventable diseases”. He also said that the government is encouraging health workers to use technology for the vaccination programmes, and ensure they reach everyone regardless of where they reside.

Also, in observance of Vaccination Week in the Americas, the health ministry will be focusing on relaunching its HPV vaccination campaign, getting more persons vaccinated against COVID-19, and vaccinating of children.

Meanwhile, Secretary of Health Surveillance and representative of the Ministry of Health, Brazil, Dr. Arnaldo Medeiros while giving his remarks said the government of Brazil is also committed to fully vaccinating its population.

“Because we believe in a fully vaccinated nation because no one is safe until everyone is safe.

“We have to strengthen our region, because only this way we are going to have quality public health [and] in cooperation with countries in our region, so that we can have a strong public health system in a place where we can say that the entire population is fully protected,” he said.

Other officials attending the ceremony were PAHO representative in Guyana, Dr. Luis Codina; PAHO representative in Brazil, Dr. Socorro Grosso; UNICEF representative for Guyana and Suriname, Irfan Akhtar; UNICEF representative in Brazil, Ana Spiassi, and other officials from both countries.

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