#CoronaVirusSA: ‘Government has a plan for townships and rural areas’

Written by Thabo Molelekwa

With the growing number of people with Covid-19 in the country, the National Department of Health says their top priorities are underprivileged communities and rural areas.

“We are concerned about the communities, the poor, the working class in the townships, informal settlements and the rural areas where resources are scarce and there’s challenged health services,” said the Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize on Monday at the inter-ministerial meeting on Covid-19 outbreak.

 The department is working on strengthening the issue of Covid-19 prevention, he added,  because that is the cheapest and the easiest way to lessen the virus’ infection rate. To this end, the department is intensifying communication — reaching out to community leaders and dispensing pamphlets to inform more people.

“We are meeting a number of leaders on Thursday and going to issue pamphlets — as well as go on radio [to talk about the virus]. This is so we can reach out to the largest number of people, so that they understand and we can demystify this virus,” Mkhize said.

‘We’ve dealt with epidemics before’

According to Mkhize, inequality is most visible in times of epidemics, and explained how more resources are needed when providing treatment in poor, or underprivileged areas. 

“And with all the epidemics that we deal with, we always find that we need more resources particularly in the rural or poor areas. But in the past we have dealt with cholera, malaria — and recently listeriosis,” he added.

 The department is looking to include community healthcare workers, and the expanded public works programme as part of the Covid-19 information campaign in townships and rural areas. These workers will also assist in augmenting tracer teams so that communities are aware of what symptoms to look out for, where to get tested and more.

“The focus on underprivileged communities is actually the thrust of why we’re taking this route,” Mkhize said. – Health-e News

About the author

Thabo Molelekwa

Thabo Molelekwa joined OurHealth citizen journalists project in 2013 and went on to become an intern reporter in 2015. Before joining Health-e News, Thabo was a member of the Treatment Action Campaign’s Vosloorus branch. He graduated from the Tshwane University of Technology with a diploma in Computer Systems and started his career at Discovery Health as a claims assessor. In 2016 he was named an International HIV Prevention Reporting Fellow with the International Centre for Journalists and was a finalist in the Discovery Health Journalism Awards competition in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Thabo also completed a feature writing course at the University of Cape Town in 2016. In 2017 he became a News reporter , he is currently managing the Citizen Journalism programme.You can follow him on @molelekwa98