The vaccination campaign against Covid-19 was officially launched Thursday in the Central African Republic, at a time when the president of this country, among the poorest in the world, is worried about a strong progression of the epidemic since the beginning of the year. .
The country, facing a serious food crisis, has received a first batch of 60,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, provided by the international Covax system, which should allow the least developed countries to have access to the doses, said the Ministry of Health.
This landlocked country in Central Africa, ravaged by a civil war for nearly eight years, is one of the last to start its vaccination campaign.
To date, 7,010 cases have been registered there, for 96 deaths. The curve has been rising sharply since the start of the year: the number of contaminations recorded during the first four months of 2021 is twenty times higher than that of the last quarter of 2020, according to the presidency.
“The epidemic is spreading deep into the villages,” President Faustin Archange Touadéra said in a statement on Wednesday, worrying about a “threat which has worrying destabilizing potential and whose magnitude is intensifying every day. “.
The most exposed health workers, the elderly and people with co-morbidities will be vaccinated as a priority, Minister of Health Pierre Somsé said on Thursday.
According to the president, “the measures taken by the government to counter the spread of this scourge have seen an almost total relaxation due to denial of the disease, prejudice and disinformation.”
The UN estimated Wednesday that nearly half of the population of this Central African country was “food insecure”, due to the coronavirus epidemic, but also because of the security situation.
“More than 2.2 million people, most of them living in rural areas, are at risk of acute food insecurity between April and August and emergency assistance is needed to prevent people from dying,” The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) developed in a statement Wednesday.
Out of 4.9 million inhabitants, “more than 630,000 people are in an emergency situation, which means that they risk (…) withdrawing their children from school or resorting to begging”, have estimated FAO and WFP.
For both organizations, this crisis “increased under the effect of renewed violence in December, on the sidelines of the presidential and legislative elections” due to an offensive by six of the most powerful armed groups.
Since mid-January, the Central African armed forces, aided by some 12,000 peacekeepers, but also hundreds of Rwandan soldiers and Russian paramilitaries have led a counter-offensive to retake several towns, opening the vital supply axis connecting the capital. , Bangui, Cameroon.