Dr. Nyambura Moremi’s Return: A New Chapter in Tanzania’s Health Leadership

Dr Nyambura Moremi was suspended alongside the institution's Quality Assurance Director Jacob Lusekelo

Dr. Nyambura Moremi

Tanzania has reinstated Dr. Nyambura Moremi, who was suspended in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the director of Tanzania’s National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL).

Her suspension came after late President John Magufuli questioned the credibility of COVID-19 testing kits used in Tanzania and the scientists at the lab, leading to Tanzania’s cessation of pandemic data releases.

Magufuli claimed that the testing kits gave positive results for samples taken from animals, fruit, and engine oil. He argued that false-positive results on samples labeled as human, including a papaya, a bird, and a goat, undermined the credibility of the national lab.

During that time, 480 people had already tested positive for COVID-19, and 16 people had already died as a result of the pandemic, which was initially confirmed in Tanzania in March 2020. Magufuli went on to suggest that the equipment or personnel might have been intentionally compromised as an act of sabotage. Additionally, he reiterated his belief that only prayers and traditional remedies could protect Tanzania from the pandemic.

Magufuli’s government declared Tanzania “COVID-19 free” and insisted that the virus had been eradicated by three days of national prayer. He further actively encouraged international tourism to mitigate the economic hardships faced by neighboring countries under lockdowns and curfews. The president even commended Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi for not wearing a face mask during a state visit to Tanzania amid the pandemic, seeing it as evidence that Tanzania remained unaffected by the virus.

President Magufuli however died in 2021, and there was initial speculation that he had succumbed to complications from COVID-19. However, the government has maintained that his death resulted from heart complications.

Dr. Nyambura Moremi is a distinguished clinical microbiologist and infectious disease expert in Tanzania. She holds a PhD in Medical Microbiology-Bacteriology from the Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences in Tanzania and Julius-Maximilians-Universitat Wurzburg in Germany.

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