By Patrick Mcombothi, A! Health Sector Coordinator
The Activate Health Champions have taken the resolution to educate the ACTIVATE! Network in fighting the misinformation and myths of coronavirus that have been going around the country.
A! Health Champions have done so far?
- 1st Hackathon: On 23 March 2020, The Health Sector hosted a Corona Virus Hackathon, the sector has an opportunity to unpacking coronavirus pandemic concerning public health care in South Africa, myths and misinformation of the virus.
- 2nd Corona Virus Hackathon: The Sector has invited Medical Doctor Ngcobo to engage the network by speaking about Covid-19 Social distancing and public health sector readiness to deal with the Corona Virus in South Africa.
- During the start of the Corona Virus pandemic, Health Champions have been diligently sharing, distributed credible infographics, national online numbers, articles on prevention and awareness posters of Covid-19. The Health Champions have shared these educational materials to the rest of the ACTIVATE! Network.
- Also, the Health Champions have been keeping tabs on the Corona Virus updates and announcements from the National Health Departments, in turn, updates the Activate WhatsApp groups.
- The Network has created a coronavirus manual guide that has been distributed through the Activate Network.
The Country is going through a health crisis, but we believe we will overcome the crisis if we unite and work together. As Health Champions we plead with the ACTIVATE! Network to practice health precautions, preventative measures to fight the misinformation and myths about the current COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to filling the gaps that exist between key role players and the disenfranchised communities. We are prepared to translate the existing resources into Youth-friendly content so that more youth understand the implications of this disease as we are most at risk. We are informed and we are ready because #YouthHealthMatters.
Inadequate health care system
The Corona Virus has exposed Health care systems globally and regionally, public health systems have been exposed to not being prepared to handle major health pandemics. Politicians around the globe are caught in the matters of economic recessions, political battles and building their electoral bases to cement their power and influence and many in the world have been exposed to have neglected the important matters of the public health system.
South Africa was no different from the rest of the world, for many years the country has been battling with the issues of high levels of corruption, depressed economy, lack of business confidence and high unemployment levels in the country. As we speak now, there is a mistrust between the government and private health sector over the new National Health Insurance bill that has been a table in the national parliament.
On March 5th, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases and National Health Department confirmed the first suspected case of Covid-19 in South Africa. The panic started around the country, ordinary South Africans were asking the levels of preparedness of government to handle such health crisis in the country. Besides panic from citizens, the South African government continue to preach the message of preparedness, told citizens to remain calm.
State of National Disaster
On the15th March 2020, the South African government declared the state of national disaster. During the week the government introduces new emergency regulations that give the state power to coordinate new preventative programs to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
These are some of the regulations introduce and gazetted by the government on 18th March 2020
- Gathering restricted to under 100 people
- Sale, dispensing or transporting of alcohol beverages is prohibited between 6 pm-9 am
- Closing Early Childhood Development centers from the 18th Match -15 April 2020
- Anyone that creates or spreads fake news about COVID-19 is liable for prosecution
- No person with COVID-19 confirmed or suspected, may refuse medical examination, prophylaxis, treatment, isolation or quarantine.
The buzz word that has been mention by world health organization (WHO) and the South African government is social distancing.
Social distancing is a tool public health officials recommend to slow the spread of disease that is being passed from person to person, simply put, it means that people stay far enough away from each other so that the coronavirus- or any pathogen- cannot spread from person to another.
Question: How can we apply social distancing in a South African context?
- How would social distancing effect the 7, 9 million people living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa?
- How possible is social distancing when it comes to historical labor influx and shack dwellers in Khayelitsha, Mayville, and Soweto?
- What impact would social distancing have on the local depress economy and the rising unemployment rate?
- How would pensioners and social grants beneficiaries get their grants in the times of social distancing?
I believe these questions would be answered not only by the South African government but by all social partners including young people who are currently driving change in South Africa.