Amid scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic, Phola is scaling up mental health, psychosocial support, counselling and training for communities in Johannesburg and surrounding areas. Phola has been working with the marginalized and vulnerable communities in Cosmo city, Zandspruit and Diepsloot. In line with lockdown restrictions and social distancing protocols, Phola is offering virtual counselling sessions via ZOOM and telephonically.
The organisation offers dignity packs for women and is mobilizing resources to start shelter homes to accommodate abused women and children during the COVID-19 lockdown.
As the South African constitution states in Article 27 that: Everyone has the right to have access to health care services, including reproductive health care; sufficient food and water and social security, including if they are unable to support themselves and their dependents, appropriate social assistance
We are also encouraged by the national government’s response to COVID-19 pandemic committing large sums of money and social grants to ameliorate the gnawing hunger and want among jobless citizens and indigent.
Also, church is playing its missionary role among other things giving food packs to help alleviate food insecurity during lockdown. A plethora of non-profit organisation are offering primary health care and disseminating relevant information on COVID-19.
Meanwhile United Nations calls for richer countries to help poorer ones overcome the disease to lessen the need for punitive lockdowns.
Widespread lockdowns have made the least protected in society-such as migrants, disabled, orphans, homeless more vulnerable.
United Nations sets minimum standards that it says must be central to an effective response to the pandemic.
Protecting people’s lives is the priority, protecting livelihood help us to it. The priority for all governments, UN has been to contain the pandemic. However, the people most severely impacted are those acknowledges who were already struggling to survive. These include the estimated 2.2 billion people who are unable to wash their hands regularly, because they have limited access to water. And the 1.8 billion who cannot socially distance because they live in overcrowded housing or on the streets.
The wide closure of schools, disrupting the education of 1 billion children, the rise in domestic abuse amid lockdown and the closure of care institutions have all the most vulnerable.
The United Nations cite examples of good practice, including provision of emergency water supplies to slum areas and suspension of housing evictions. But more is needed as part of a wider human rights focused risk prevention strategy.
Long standing inequalities and underlying determinants of health are leaving individuals and groups disproportionately impacted by the virus.
Member States have the responsibility to counter discrimination and hate speech by all actors, including social media houses, must play their part.
The best way to maintain public support for the measures is for government to be open and transparent and involve people in making decisions that affect them.
Around the world, governments are planning for life beyond lockdown, with lengthy periods of social distancing and reduction of freedoms.
However, without transparency in their decision making and the ability to listen to criticism, governments risk losing people’s trust and a consequence their cooperation.
People’s support can be gained by measures including freedoms and trying to sustain democracy in the lockdown.
‘If coronavirus isn’t dealt with everywhere then nowhere is safe’- UN
‘COMMON PREVENTION TIPS’
Help stop the spread of COVID-19:
• Listen for instructions from your local government about staying home
• Keep a safe distance from others
• Clean hands often and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home
• Do not touch eyes, nose or mouth
• Cover coughs and sneeze with your elbow or tissue
Source: World Health Organization