Botswana Vows To Vaccinate 'Undocumented Migrants'


The Government of Botswana has affirmed that the vaccination roll-out will provide doses to eligible populations, which include people who entered the country illegally.

The promise followed a question that was raised by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Selebi-Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse in Parliament recently.

He had wanted to know the government’s policy concerning the vaccination of non-citizens, in particular, to state whether they are part of the roll-out plan.

Keorapetse also wanted to establish whether the vaccination plan has accommodated people who have entered and those living in the country illegally.

Equally, he wanted to know if populations of illegal immigrats are not accommodated, would their unvaccinated statuses not be defeating the efforts to create herd immunity.

The MP also wanted to find out if the government has accommodated people in the country without legal permission, how then the campaign is coming out clear on this and how many have so far been vaccinated.

Responding to Keorapetse’s questions, assistant Minister of Health and Wellness, Sethomo Lelatisitswe said the government’s policy is to vaccinate all eligible populations including “undocumented migrants”.

Lelatisitswe further stated that “the vaccination of undocumented immigrants will offer protection to the rest of the population”.

The assistant minister added that vaccinating as many people as possible in the country is critical to reducing the spread of COVID-19.

“The National Development and Vaccination Plan (NDVP) for COVID-19 in Botswana is guided by the Public Health Act of 2013, Expanded Programme on Immunisation Policy (EPI) of 2016 and the National Health Policy,” Lelatisitswe explained.

“According to the EPI policy, in order to ensure equity and social justice following the National Health Policy, immunisation will be provided to eligible populations irrespective of their ethnicity, gender, cultural, political, religious affiliation or geographical location.”

Furthermore, Lelatisitswe said the vaccination will also include the population in refugee camps as legal residents are also eligible according to the phased approach of the NDVP.

He noted that the ministry currently does not have statistics on how many immigrants who have entered the country illegally have so far been vaccinated.

“They are not given any particular priority and they have to follow the vaccination deployment plan. The ministry promotes the value of equity that is equal service delivery to all,” Lelatisitswe added.

In addition, Keorapetse asked the assistant minister if he was aware of Batswana who of recent have been crossing the borders in numbers to vaccinate in neighbouring countries and what that meant.

Sharing the same sentiments, the MP for Jwaneng/Mabutsane, Mephato Reatile wanted to establish if Botswana has made any arrangements with her neighbouring countries as Batswana continue to cross the borders in numbers for vaccination. Responding to Keorapetse’s supplementary question, Lelatisitswe stated that it is an individual’s right to vaccinate wherever they want, especially that countries worldwide face the pandemic and are currently vaccinating their populations.

“This is a public health issue, everyone can vaccinate wherever they are. That is why Botswana is vaccinating undocumented migrants. Even Batswana residing in other countries have vaccinated,” Lelatisitswe said.

Editor's Comment
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