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A need to protect the poor

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They should not be left behind

SAFETY nets need to be in place to ensure that the poor are not left behind during the imminent 21-day lockdown.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country will go into lockdown from tomorrow night in an effort to curb the spread of the Covid-19.

During the lockdown, people will be allowed to only go out for essentials like medicine and food supplies. 

Mthandazo Ndlovu, Oxfam’s Governance Programme Manager, said while it was important to curb the spread of the coronavirus, it was important to ensure the poor were not left behind.

“Indeed, containing the pandemic is of utmost importance. In addition to this, containment is also linked to the safety nets in place that don’t leave the most vulnerable amongst us exposed.

“Therefore, we must urgently strengthen the safety nets to protect the most vulnerable amongst our communities, particularly low wage workers and their dependents. We must also continue to measure the impacts to assess whether or not our interventions are effective,” he said.

Ndlovu said one of the ways that inequality might help spread the virus was access to healthcare. 

He said it was general knowledge that privatisation of health care is one of the drivers for inequality. “Evidence shows that only 10% of South Africans can afford what is being charged by private healthcare, this coupled with poor quality of public health care system, resulting in unequal access to health which compound other inequalities particularly for women and young people living in rural areas and informal townships.

“It is for this reason that we must come together more than ever before, taking all necessary actions to ensure we protect ourselves, our families and communities, and extend support and solidarity to those who by virtue of their economic and social status, will feel the impact most profoundly.”

Ndlovu said this is the perfect time to test whether the private and public healthcare system could work together. 

“With more than 80% of South Africans dependent on the public health service, this is the opportunity to test the principle of pooling resources between the private and public health system as proposed through the National Health Insurance Scheme.

“It also requires that the government reverses its premeditated assault against a public healthcare system that is on its knees due to chronic under provisioning,” he said.

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