Ours is a country where there is rarely any good news to report concerning the government and its related entities. Usually the stories are about the misappropriation or wastage of funds by public officials, their general ineptitude and failure to deliver services to the public. That is if we are not lamenting the ever-escalating killings of civilians.
But the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) is bucking this unenviable trend and turning out to be a rare breath of fresh air. Under the leadership of Malitaba Litaba, NACOSEC is finally delivering on its mandate to coordinate the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Established by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro in June 2020 to replace the discredited inter-ministerial National Emergency Command Centre (NECC), NACOSEC immediately found its back against the wall.
Although it had an excellent leader in former CEO, Thabo Khasipe, the secretariat still found the going tough as it was starved of funds to mount serious Covid-19 awareness programmes, recruit and pay an adequate number of health professionals to fight the scourge. Nor could it procure sufficient consumables for testing the public for the virus.
Unsurprisingly, Mr Khasipe threw in the towel after only a few months at the helm of the secretariat. No one could blame him for refusing to have his reputation sullied in that poisoned atmosphere where well-meaning members of the secretariat often found that they could not do their work due to constant meddling by some government officials bent on throwing their weight around even in places where they were not needed.
Deprived of funds, the indications were that NACOSEC would turn out to be the all-too-familiar story of failure.
But thanks to support from Lesotho’s international development partners and the local private sector, the secretariat has acquitted itself well over the past few months. The results are there to show; mass awareness campaigns have been successfully conducted to educate people about the dangers of the pandemic and the necessary actions to protect themselves and prevent its spread.
As our Vox Pop with people from various districts showed last week, the public is now well-informed about the misconceptions regarding the vaccines as well as the importance of getting jabbed.
The infection rates have been brought under control thus enabling the country to ease the hard lockdown and allow the resumption of various socio-economic activities. The borders have been re-opened and tourists can once again visit our iconic Thaba Bosiu mountain and enjoy our breathtakingly beautiful high-altitude scenery. It is a pity that the easing of the restrictions has come a little too late for international visitors to partake in the snow-filled, winter-inspired activities at Afriski.
But we are fully confident that when concluded, the ongoing mass vaccination campaign will ensure that we will never again have to impose a hard lockdown and prevent tourists from coming into our country because of Covid-19.
The vaccination programme is perhaps NACOSEC’s biggest success story so far.
By the end of last month, more than 18 percent of the population had been vaccinated against the pandemic. This was well above the target set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which had asked countries to ensure that at least 10 percent of their populations would have been jabbed by the end of September 2021.
NACOSEC’s successes would not have been possible without the generous support of all-weather partners like the United States, China, France and the WHO. The local private sector ably led by business mogul Sam Matekane also played their part in procuring vaccines.
Hats off to NACOSEC for the sterling job so far. However, the war is not over and we urge NACOSEC not to rest on its laurels. The public is also enjoined to get jabbed. There shouldn’t be any more excuses because NACOSEC has taken the vaccines to the streets and bus stops where they can be easily accessed by vendors and taxi drivers among others.
Even congregants can now access the vaccines in their places of worship.
Let us all get jabbed to achieve herd immunity in the population. Only then can there be a resumption of full-scale socio-economic activities.