According to a report by the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI), COVID vaccine cards are being stolen at healthcare facilities. The report cites poor civil servant pay and those who don’t want to get vaccinated as being the market for the stolen cards.
“Theft of Covid-19 vaccination cards at vaccination centres as reported in mainstream media is an indicator of a bad state of affairs in the health sector in as far as remuneration of healthcare workers are concerned. The government’s failure to address incapacitation of healthcare workers in Zimbabwe is proving to be catalyst of corrupt activities across many health centres in Zimbabwe.”Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) Report
The problem has made it difficult for the nation’s healthcare system to properly collate information of those who are actually vaccinated. We have heard that the government is trying to get the country to herd immunity as fast as possible but this theft of cards and with them being sold on the black market means that the information may be compromised.
“It, therefore, suffices to say the reported number of people vaccinated by 30 September 2021, consists of a figure of people who bought the vaccination cards and have their details entered into the official database”Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) Report
Last week, New Zimbabwe reported that there were 27 COVID vaccination cards that had disappeared in Chinhoyi (serial numbers 02544941 to 02544967). It looks like that discovery is just the tip of the iceberg from the revelations made by the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute.
Technologies to secure these documents already exist
Earlier this week, we reported on a local startup called Hiclicker which is launching a digital COVID-19 Vaccine and test certificate passport next month. As far as we can tell this is something that the government is involved with.
As good as it is that the government has contracted a local company to develop this solution. On the other hand, why wasn’t a digital passport made a priority earlier?
The European Union (EU), made great strides to make sure a digital and robust COVID vaccine passport was rolled out as soon as possible. This was to ensure that borders could be reopened and commerce and travel could begin again.
Comparing our government to the EU might be a case of apples to oranges but that doesn’t excuse our government dragging its feet on this one…
The only stop-gap we have now is the QR codes on the physical COVID vaccine cards, however again that rollout was done later and those who got cards without the security measure will have to go and get new ones. This puts yet another burden on the already overwhelmed healthcare system.
The rabbit hole goes deeper still…
On Wednesday, I was at my local clinic getting my second jab and there were two people in front of me who had lost or misplaced their COVID vaccine cards. What I thought would be a simple computer look-up and reprint turned out to be a nurse having to look through book after book to verify the dates that the individuals had stated.
It’s 2021, in a pandemic and healthcare staff who are poorly paid are having to manually look through physical records to re-issue vaccination cards… This is extremely worrying and further brings into question the accuracy of the national reporting.
By this I mean, how do the healthcare workers report the information back to the Ministry? Do they have to manually enter every name that comes through from the written record at some point in the week? Or do they just send a number of those vaccinated on the day to the Ministry?
How then can the Ministry of Health then ensure that those who are vaccinated, who have lost their vaccination cards, don’t further inconvenience healthcare staff? Clearly, the launch of a digital passport should only be the beginning, the computerisation of the process needs to stretch to every outlet, and clinic that is authorised to administer the vaccine.