Letter to His Holiness, Pope Francis

I am writing to you to express my fears about the situation with regards to COVID-19 in Tanzania. The current government is denying the existence of COVID-19 and the President believes the country has been cured of the virus through prayer. President John Magufuli is a devout Christian and I know first-hand the power of prayer and comfort it can provide. His Holiness, you have been a strong advocate of the vaccine and even said recently refusal is akin to suicidal denialism. President Magufuli has refused to participate in the COVAX programme advocating herbal remedies instead. There has been some change in messaging from the Magufuli administration, after WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom issued a statement urging the President to share data and participate in the vaccination programme.

The situation in Tanzania goes beyond the issue of vaccinations. The codeword for COVID in Tanzania “pneumonia” and since January of this year, I have lost five friends and relatives including my father, none of them were tested for COVID and received steam therapy along with antibiotics and steroids, in hope that something would work. Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world and as it stands 60-million Tanzanians are at risk. There is an urgent need for testing, PPE for medical staff and a coordinated public health education campaign. I am writing to ask for your help in engaging President Magufuli and to connect with him as a Christian to reconsider his approach to COVID in Tanzania.

Please note: this is a copy of the letter sent by postal mail to His Holiness.