#COVID19: Gabon To Impose Testing Fees To Finance Vaccinations

Gabon initially set a target of 50 per cent vaccination but has now moved it to 70 per cent.

The Gabonese government has decided to reduce certain budgetary allocations and redeploy the funds on vaccination against COVID-19.

According to Jessye Ella Ekogha, the spokesperson of the Presidency of Gabon, these new austerity measures may include imposing fees on testing for the COVID-19.

“We have today attained a situation that we have never reached during the second wave,” Ella Ekogha declared on Thursday, Oct. 7, revealing that the country currently has 4,200 active COVID-19 cases in hospitals in the country. “This suggests that the situation is extremely preoccupying because of the third wave of the pandemic in this country.”

“Taking into consideration the contaminations and hospitalisations which are getting more and more, the risk of saturation in hospitals is very real now.”

“The only arm to truly combat this virus remains vaccination,” Ella Ekogha declared before regretting the lack of enthusiasm among the populations to take the jab.

“We have a sufficient number of vaccine doses but the rhythm of vaccination remains very insufficient right now.”

Gabon had fixed for itself a vaccination target of 50 per cent before the country’s leader, President Ali Bongo Ondimba took it up to 60 per cent.

“The vaccination target henceforth is 70 per cent of the population but the actual figures for now do not give hope for attaining the 70 per cent target within a reasonable timeframe,” Ekogha said, adding that the deployment of caravans of vaccination has permitted the amelioration of the number of vaccinated persons but this number is not up to the expectations of the authorities.

“Faced with this situation, we must make certain choices because budgetary resources are not unlimited,” he said, revealing that a reflection is right now underway to reduce certain budgets and redeploy the money on vaccination.

“To this end, it should be made known that free tests may be put into question,” the presidential spokesperson said before declaring that should it become necessary to impose fees on tests, “Gabon will only be following the pertinent example of many countries before it.”

“The evolution of the situation forces us to evolve even in the fight against the virus. The idea is not to arrive at obligatory vaccination. The first objective is that there should be an awakening of conscience on the part of the populations and that this should be done voluntarily.” 

He maintained that the state takes its responsibility of preserving the health of the populations and the economy.

“The more we vaccinate, the less we would have severe cases because the first objective of vaccination is to avoid there being severe cases,” he said.

Ekogha recalled that right now, more than 95 per cent of the new positive cases were among those who have not been vaccinated and more than 95 per cent  of persons hospitalised and in reanimation are also those who have not been vaccinated.

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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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