Ethiopia spends billions for weapons instead of millions for COVID19 vaccine

Ethiopia is seeing COVID19 infections climbing above previous peaks

While the Ethiopian government is fixated on buying weapons, spending over $2.5 billion this year, it is stingy about spending money to protect Ethiopians from the wave of COVID19 infections afflicting the globe. Reports indicate that expenditures for health and vaccination have been slowed down or halted in favor of the war effort. The past couple of days I have spoken to individuals and healthcare providers from Ethiopia who report that clinics are swamped with patients and hospitals overflowing.

According to the John Hopkins database Ethiopia is rapidly climbing with the highest infection rates seen to date. In fact for December 30, 2021 it was 4,998. This week it has gone from 4000 a week to over 4000 a day. With millions of displaced persons in Tigray(who have no access to healthcare, testing, or vaccination) and Northern Ethiopia one can easily assume this infection rate is artificially low.

According to Oxford University data base as of December 29, 2021 less than 2 million Ethiopians have been fully vaccinated which means two doses and does not include a third booster out of more then 110 million population. Less than 10 million received a single dose which wears off in a few months.

The COVAX program run by the World Health Organization in cooperation with the United Nations coordinates and provides vaccinations around the world including Ethiopia. Receiving countries have to pay a third of the cost to sustain the program. Although the program allocated 41 million doses for Ethiopia so far Ethiopia has only ordered 27 million of which 22 million where ready some time ago but they have not been delivered. Where they ever paid for?

In contrast to the COVAX official reports, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health reported to Reuters in February 2021 that an initial 9 million doses was secured at a cost of $328 million dollars with a promise to immunize 20% of the population by the end of year. Clearly the reality of that report is in question as nothing further has happened since February 2021. 

Author: Professor Tony Magana

Professor Tony Magana is Head of the Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences at Mekelle University in Mekelle, Ethiopia. He directs a neurosurgery residency and training program as well as neuroscience research.

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