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Catholic Doctors in Kenya Condemn Threats against Unvaccinated Government Workers

Logo of the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association (KCDA). Credit: Courtesy Photo

Members of the Kenya Catholic Doctors’ Association (KCDA) are advocating for voluntary participation in the COVID-19 vaccination in the country, saying that any move to force people to get inoculated is “unethical and in bad taste.”

An earlier directive by the government in Kenya required all civil servants in the East African country to get the first jab of COVID-19 vaccine by August 23, failure to which they would have their salaries and allowances stopped.

In their Sunday, September 5 statement, the Kenyan medics call for support for those who express their reluctance to get inoculated and those who oppose it altogether.

“We strongly oppose the said directive and opine that it is not only illegal, but unethical and in bad taste. We advocate for voluntary enrolment in the ongoing COVID-19 investigational vaccine trials,” the medics says in the statement signed by their chairperson, Dr. Wahome Ngare. 

They add, “Public servants and other Kenyans who opt for early treatment as opposed to participating in the clinical trials should be offered as much support with relevant medication being made available in all public hospitals and government dispensaries free of charge.”

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According to the Catholic medics, the ongoing war is a war against COVID-19 and “should not be distorted into a war between those who opt in or out of clinical trials.”

They assert that a personal health choice does not constitute an offence under Kenya’s code of conduct.

The members of KCDA have maintained that there are other medical options for dealing with COVID-19. They observe that instructing public servants to go for the COVID-19 injections is equivalent to forcefully recruiting public servants into clinical trials, which they say is against rules that govern “human experiments.” 

“It is unfortunate that public servants are being coerced to receive investigational vaccines when there are cheap, readily available and effective treatments that greatly reduces the risk of hospitalization, severe disease and death without attendant risks of the investigational vaccines side effects,” they say in a report obtained by ACI Africa.  

The medics further refer to Kenya’s Public Code of Conduct and Ethics of 2016, which they say does not grant non-medical heads in the public service competence to offer a medical opinion.

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The code of conduct, they say, prohibits all public officers and especially those in authority from discriminating against any person based on their vaccination status.

The law further prohibits those in authority from engaging in activities that amount to abuse of office, from bullying and from using privileged information such as health or vaccination status of public servants to further any private interest such as profiting vaccine manufacturers.

“In any case, part III of the code is very clear on the enforcement of the code of conduct and ethics,” they say. 

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has assured civil servants that they will not be coerced to receive the COVID-19 jab, adding that it is essential especially for the vulnerable.

“We are not going to force anybody. It will be your decision whether you want to take it or not. But I truly would encourage, especially those who are in that most vulnerable bracket, that it is essential that you be vaccinated,” President Kenyatta said.

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In their Sunday, September 5 statement, Catholic doctors in Kenya appeal to be included in the fight against the coronavirus.

“It is critical that the doctors on the frontline are given an opportunity and support to contribute towards overcoming COVID-19. It is our belief that a strategy involving containment measures together with early treatment of COVID-19 using repurposed drugs such as Ivermectin and the Hydroxychloroquine/Zinc combination is the quickest and safest way to overcome the pandemic,” KCDA members say.

They add, “New Delhi as a state and India as a country have shown the way by adopting the use of Ivermectin at national level with brilliant results that speak for themselves. Clinical trials involving a small population of volunteers can remain ongoing.”