While supportive of vaccinations against COVID-19, the Opposition APNU+AFC today said the Government’s “authoritarian” measures to get persons vaccinated are not the way to go.
In a statement, the APNU+AFC said it is shocked but not surprised by some of the measures that have been instituted by the Government.
The coalition said the Government has mismanaged the pandemic and the hesitancy being expressed by some persons to take the vaccine is in response to that mismanagement.
“The APNU+AFC Coalition notes the COVID-19 emergency measures that came into effect on August 1st, 2021. We are appalled but not surprised by the means chosen by the PPP regime and some sections of the private sector to address vaccine hesitancy here in Guyana. No one should be surprised by these steps given that the PPP has increasingly adopted and encouraged authoritarian methods of governance over the last year,” the statement from the Opposition said.
Last week, the Government announced a number of measures that target unvaccinated persons. The measures include unvaccinated persons being unable to visit a Government Ministry or Agency without an appointment.
The Opposition is of the view that a responsible approach to vaccine hesitancy should take the rule of law into account, pointing to the need for consultations with stakeholders for useful strategies to be devised.
“The APNU+AFC Coalition is also cognizant that there are International Conventions as well as local laws which govern a person’s rights in relation to medical interventions. These have been clearly adumbrated by the Guyana Public Service Union in its press release on July 31, 2021, entitled It is illegal for any Guyanese, including employees to be vaccinated under duress,” the Opposition explained.
The Opposition further explained that the Medical Practitioners Act No. 16 of 1991 as well as the Patient Charter 2008 of the Ministry of Health, safeguard a person’s right to privacy and confidentiality as well as their right to consent and their right to refuse treatment and medical intervention noting that the approach to reducing vaccine hesitancy cannot be to ignore the fact that citizen’s have legal rights.
“The APNU+AFC Coalition continues to encourage persons to take the vaccines as they become available. We however call on the PPP regime to desist from their dictatorial approach in handling this pandemic and to instead adopt a consultative and collaborative approach which respects the fundamental rights of our citizens,” the Opposition noted.