WORRIED

Lake Victoria islanders ask state to vaccinate them against Covid

There are approximately 1,000 Kenyans living on the three islands, they said.

In Summary

• They want the government to send health officials to administer Covid-19 vaccines to them.

• They said frequent visits by people living on the islands of Sumba, Khanete and Nabaduba to areas of Port Victoria where they interact with non-islanders is putting their lives at risk.

Sumba, one of the affected island in Lake Victoria on November 21, 2021.
AFFECTED: Sumba, one of the affected island in Lake Victoria on November 21, 2021.
Image: EMOJONG OSERE
Human Rights activist David Wanga on November 21, 2021.
CONCERNED: Human Rights activist David Wanga on November 21, 2021.
Image: EMOJONG OSERE

Fishermen and families living in Lake Victoria islands in Budalang’i are worried that Covid-19 may strike and find them unvaccinated.

The fishermen said on Sunday that inhabitants of the islands are living in fear since they are yet to receive the jab. They want the government to send health officials to administer the vaccines to them.

They said frequent visits by people living on the islands of Sumba, Khanete and Nabaduba to areas of Port Victoria, where they interact with non-islanders, is putting their lives at risk.

There are approximately 1,000 Kenyans living on the three islands, they said on Sunday.

They added that the government needs to act by sending health officials to the three islands to vaccinate them. 

Ramadhan Obuya, the Sumba Beach Management Unit secretary, said they are not happy because from the time  the vaccination drive started, they have never seen health officials come to administer the jab.

“We are asking the government why people living on islands are being discriminated against. We don't get basic health services here. We want to ask the government what the problem is,” he said.

Obuya said traders from the islands who cross the border into Uganda always get harassed, as Ugandan authorities demand that they produce vaccination certificates before being allowed into their country.

This, they said, is hampering the growth of their business with their Ugandan counterparts.

On Sunday, the government announced that Kenyans seeking in-person government services will now be required to show proof of full vaccination beginning December 21.

This will include Kenya Revenue Authority, education, immigration, hospital and prison visitations, the National Transport and Safety Authority and port services.

The measures were announced by the Health ministry to boost the uptake of Covid-19 vaccine.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said Kenyans will be required to provide proof of full vaccination while seeking transport services, including domestic flights, the SGR and when boarding matatus and buses.

Drivers, conductors, boda boda riders, pilots and cabin crew will be required to be fully vaccinated and carry proof of vaccination at all times.

Obuya said the Health ministry's declaration may affect fishermen and people living on Lake Victoria islands.

“We want the local administration, including our assistant chiefs and chiefs and the Ministry of Health officials, to come and tell us why we are not receiving the vaccine. They should tell us when we are receiving the vaccine,” Obuya said.

He said they want Busia Health chief executive, who is Deputy Governor Moses Mulomi, to ensure the inhabitants of the islands are not left behind in all aspects.

"We don’t have a dispensary, we don’t have a school and Covid-19 vaccines have also failed to reach here.”

“We don’t know why we have been abandoned yet we are also Kenyans. What other Kenyans receive should also be brought to us,” he said.

Human Rights activist David Wanga said the government should act and deliver Covid-19 vaccine to the islands.

Edited by A.N