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Tanzania’s Doctors Hopeful for New Covid-19 Reaction

Throttled by late President John Magufuli’s coronavirus denialism, Tanzanian doctors have expressed hope the arrival of a new leader will bring positive change to the country’s questionable handling of the pandemic. In June last year, Magufuli declared his country had beaten the virus through prayer. Authorities had already stopped registering cases and deaths since May – at the time, Tanzania had 509 cases and 21 deaths – and warned of strong measures against those who allegedly spread “false information”. Anyone who defied orders – including doctors – could be jailed under a law passed in 2018, which prohibits questioning the accuracy of official statistics. Healthcare workers around the country have found themselves carefully treading the line between adhering to government narrative and staying loyal to their profession, in what a Tanzanian doctor in Geneva called “extremely difficult” circumstances. Now, in what could be considered the first sign of transformation, the Ministry of Health last week quietly released on its website science-based coronavirus guidelines, including personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers and masks for patients.