Vaccine roll-out: inclusivity is the key to ending the pandemic

03 February 2021
Press Statement
Immediate release

The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has created mayhem in South Africa and worldwide, with many people getting infected and dying. There is a greater need to vaccinate a significant population to beat the pandemic both locally and globally. Therefore, we call for solidarity in the vaccines’ roll-out that does not cut across nationalism, nepotism, party politics, or corporate exploiting. Slowing the infection rate is of great urgency to ensure that our health facilities do not continue to be overwhelmed.

We feel relieved with the arrival of the first batch of the vaccine on the 1st February 2021, which is mainly targeting the health care workers on the frontline, as this will be of great help to the workers following losing many along the process of helping. The South African Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19 vaccines has established a plan to ensure equitable access to vaccines using a biometric system as a tracking technique. However, as the youth of Africa Unite, we are concerned with whether equitable access will be achieved especially looking at the unequal healthcare of South Africa, where the healthcare budget was reduced; half of the expenditures cover less than 20% of the population. In comparison, the other half is supposed to cover healthcare for more than 80% of the rest of South Africa’s population, which primarily comprises those living in poverty or are a part of the Black working class.

We welcome the President of South Africa’s good news, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, in his (last family meeting) speech, in which he assures that the vaccine will be administered to everyone, including refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers. However, it has been noted that the electronic vaccine data system requires a South Africa ID or a Passport Nr and we know thousands of people do not have SA ID because of the ineffectiveness of the Department of Home Affairs; We hope that particular attention will be given to women migrant domestic workers and women farmworkers. Furthermore, we call on Government not to forget about undocumented migrants. 

The President’s speech gives hope to foreign nationals as they were previously excluded from the COVID-19 relief package offered to the South Africans despite their contribution to the host country and paying taxes along with their counterparts. Our concern stems from some groups within the South African society that feel the vaccines must be distributed only to the citizens, a breeding ground for xenophobic sentiments, and must be tackled before it spirals. No one cannot be left behind as it is the key to ending the pandemic as this will curb the risk of ongoing transmission in the populations.

Despite the President pronouncing and giving assurance on all groups of society’s inclusivity in the vaccine’s access, much accountability and monitoring of the vaccine roll-out is essential.  Our memories are still fresh with the past corruption experiences that hit the country in distributing the Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs).  Sadly, these acts were committed by the same government leaders who will also be in charge of the vaccine distribution. Hence, as the youth of Africa Unite, we call the South African leadership to put party politics aside as these will hamper the equitable distribution of the vaccine. Moreover, we youth of South Africa, we need to be watchdogs of leaders so that history does not repeat itself.

Furthermore, we call upon the Government to adhere to equity as COVID-19 does not discriminate on nationality or race. As mentioned in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s previous address to the nation, we face an unparalleled danger in our democratic dispensation history. It will take the collaborative and concerted efforts of all South Africans and residents of the Republic to defeat this threat. We, as Africa Unite youth, call on all of our people to stand united. “With a fast-moving pandemic, no one is safe, unless everyone is safe” – WHO

For more information, please contact lyle@africaunite.org.za or alternatively info@africaunite.org.za

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