In light of the quantities of Covid-19 vaccines distributed amid the absence of a clear and published plan
The Civil Society Organizations demand that the Prime Minister forms an investigation committee to scrutinize the process of vaccine distribution, to hold to account those who violated the distribution principles, and to publish the Covid-19 vaccination plan
Ramallah- Since the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the civil society organizations (CSOs) have maintained that the government must adhere to the principles of transparency and integrity in managing the pandemic, since the countries that confronted the pandemic most effectively are those that adhered to the principles of partnership, disclosure and transparency with their citizens to manage the crisis.
Upon announcing that a vaccine has been developed against the virus, and the subsequent competition among the states to purchase or reserve quantities, the reports of the international agencies that warned of the consequences of failing to adopt clear distribution mechanisms and criteria, and of the possibilities of corruption or abuse of power in the processes of distribution or importation. To avoid such problems arising from distribution processes in Palestine once the vaccine is available, the civil society had requested the Prime Minister to form a public-private-nongovernmental committee to develop a vaccine distribution plan and criteria.
The civil society also reiterated that the distribution process would be complicated, and required a timely and thorough planning process to preclude Wasta, nepotism and abuse of power and positions in obtaining vaccines.
The Council of Ministers meeting no. (87) took the decision to develop a plan to provide Palestine with sufficient quantities of vaccines in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO) criteria. The civil society called then for publicizing the distribution process, publishing an accurate and thorough database of the target groups, their places of residence, and the centers at which they would receive the vaccines, in accordance with a projected timeline. The aim was to ensure transparent processes of planning and distribution, which would enhance the citizens’ trust in the official parties and the adopted measures. Moreover, the aim was to define the roles of all governmental, private and nongovernmental parties, UNRWA, as well as the database of the Ministry of Interior, the Central Bureau of Statistics, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and other stakeholders who might have a role in developing the necessary databases.
Despite repeated calls, available information and observations indicate that many persons have been vaccinated, in breach of the prioritization criteria, which gives priority to the medical staff, the elderly and the sick.
The current government continues to overlook the calls for disclosing its Covid-19 vaccine distribution plan and the list of persons who received the vaccines, both from the medical staff and others. It continues to refrain from announcing the mechanisms, measures and points of distribution, and from holding accountable those who abused their public positions. This creates an enabling environment for Wasta, nepotism, selfishness and omission of the public interest.
The government failed to make public the details of the process of purchasing the vaccines, the exporting companies, the detailed budgets and specific delivery dates. Moreover, it keeps providing conflicting information and statements, which indicates poor management of the battle against Covid-19 virus, pending international sympathy in providing the vaccines, which will not happen before several months, or reaching herd immunity, which means sacrificing our most important asset, the Palestinian citizen.
The CSOs believe that the disorganization in managing the vaccine distribution file and the absence of a clear and publicized plan shall have severe repercussions on the Palestinian society. Available information and observation reveals that the process is conducted within a framework of cronyism and contacts, giving priority to personal interests at the expense of public interest, and treating with indifference the serious epidemic situation that threatens the Palestinian medical teams, the sick and the elderly.
Hence, the CSOs demand that the Prime Minister, in his capacity and the first official responsible for managing the Covid-19 file: