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#COVID19: Gabon Ignores People Facing Mental Illnesses In Vaccination Campaign

A Gabonese has called the government’s attention to the need for vaccinating people experiencing mental illnesses.

While the Gabonese government has been trying to curb the spread of COVID-19 the coronavirus in the country through an enlarged vaccination campaign, there has been no mention of people suffering various forms of mental illnesses, most of whom have been roaming the streets of several towns in the country.

“The Minister of Public Health and the various government officials involved in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic have been carrying out various sensitisation campaigns aimed at curbing the spread of the virus in the country,” said Gabriel Mbah, a civil society activist.

“However, we are yet to hear Dr Guy Patrick Obiang Ndong utter a word about the fate reserved for people suffering from mental conditions. This gives the impression that the government has totally abandoned this group who remain citizens of this country and must by right be taken care of at all times including during this pandemic.”

Mbah said no one has talked about how those facing mentally illnesses would be vaccinated against the COVID-19. “We are being advised to massively go out and get vaccinated but nobody is talking about [them] … What if most of us are vaccinated to the exclusion of the mental patients, would they not be in a position to continue the spread of the virus to those who are not vaccinated?” he asked.

A Gabonese who identified himself as a lawyer but declined to give his name also queried the government about the arrangement being made to cover those facing mental illness.

“What arrangements has the government made to protect this category of citizens who have mostly lost their sense of reality?” he asked.

“Are we going to just allow them to continue living in their own world without getting them vaccinated? It seems the government is oblivious of the fact that they constitute a threat to its efforts at abolishing the coronavirus if they are not vaccinated too.”

“Government has been saying vaccination is voluntary though it has recently been taking actions to the contrary. Since these other compatriots are not in positions to decide on what to do themselves, is the government going to get them vaccinated by force?” the lawyer asked.


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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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