God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Don’t crack down on dissent – have a plan and show it!

The fallout of comments made by members of the South African ministerial advisory committee MAC was to be expected – Minster Dr. Zweli Mkhize wasn’t happy and the reported heated exchange leaves the need to little fantasies about tone and emotions during the last meeting.
Obviously a government with a president claiming to follow sound and best advice of the very best academics the country has to offer cannot be happy, when the very same experts question the rationale of decisions made.
We are dealing with a health crisis – so the advice of health experts is of utmost importance – it seems that the political ploy to use this crisis for political gains and the dissatisfaction of “our people” led the academics to the conclusion that they will be blamed for the dire situation instead the politicians in charge of all the hardcore decisions; be it the ban of alcohol and tobacco sale, be it the never ending discussions about what a person is allowed to buy and what not in our times.

For me it is encouraging that those academics who are indeed known for their expertise and listened to at many conferences see finally also the need to speak out and not keep silent about the madness of regulations we are showered with – changing almost on a daily base. I guess the frankness of Trevor Manuel was one of the encouraging trigger point for them to speak out – and they said actually nothing what we did not know – they spoke common sense:

It is a health crisis – and instead of getting imprisoned in stages and rules and fine-tuning of rules there are some facts undisputable and determine the way forward:

  • Government asked and got 5 weeks to prepare for a virus, which will not stop even during lockdown to spread.
  • South Africa with the dense township population and the amount of people living in poverty or on a daily or weekly salary or allowance cannot adhere to Western measurements of e.g. physical distancing over a long period of time.
  • The impact on our economy is almost killing our system – the attempt of some in national government to change the system abusing the crisis is simply not acceptable.
  • We have to live with the virus for a longer time to come – so all public health measures should be – next to screening and testing – the focus point of all governmental efforts. Companies, NGO’s and all other in the working field should get all resources to remain on top of the pandemic and to function as safe as possible.
  • Military personnel should assist in opening field kitchen and field hospitals to assist our weak health system.
  • Parliament must regain oversight control over all the measures again – this is a time parliamentarians have to come together for the greater good of South Africa regardless of political creed.
  • Assistance must be made available to all South Africans – Covid-19 is also a chance to feel that we indeed are all in it.

A clear and transparent time table is needed to open up the economy while using all energy to bolster further our health system and get more testing and tracing done. We can’t live from President’s speech to President speech – expecting afterwards again a change in rules.
Honesty and the willingness to share all information, to explain the steps taken and the attempt to regain the trust lost in the last weeks will go a long way to beat this virus here in South Africa. We don’t need any ideology at the moment, no political grandstanding but humility and decency from those making decisions. No Cuban flag, no camouflage, no finger up in the air, no threats, no kindergarten teacher attitude but clear, sustained smart steps coming out of a common consent that we are all want to beat this little bug in a way, that makes us stronger and more resilient in the future.

 

Filed under: General, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , ,

Politics can produce drug resistance

It will be a hot and contested election year in South Africa – and the heat is starting to be felt with all the manifestos and declarations but also toi-toi’s and service delivery protests. The DA want’s to march towards Luthuli House, Khayelitsha residence fight for better sanitation systems, AMCU is on strike again at the Platinum mines – people are going for their convictions onto the streets and politics one or the other way dictates for a lot of people how they spend their days. The question I would like to ask is whether with all those emotions boiling over are people still taking care of their health? Do people have time to go to the clinics to take their TB medication; do they think of appointments with doctors and nursing staff and do they take their anti-retroviral treatment as prescribed if they are in need of it?

We often hear that in times of unrest, civil war health issues are on the back-burner when it comes to people’s minds – often they don’t have the opportunity to organize their health related obligations to keep fit. But I believe even on the low-level of service delivery protests and strikes and marches we can see the problem arising of not adherence to life saving medication. We pride ourselves to put more and more people on those medication but we seem not to be able to ensure the proper compliance when politics takes over. With 2 million and still counting for example on anti-retroviral treatment, there must be a concern about their well-being in those heated days.
When we saw the poo-protesters on the N2 motorway many times last year – those questions of adherence and compliance were always on my mind. Knowing how big the restrains are already on the health system we can’t effort more resistant bugs. And reading this morning about the thoughts of government officials to let people pay if they self-inflict their health problems – non-compliance because of toi-toi might be also falling soon under that label. It might sound far-fetched – but country and society are in such a crazy mood in many quarters – let’s work together that we care about compliance and adherence, be it TB or HIV or any other of those disease bringing down a person if not treated in a proper way.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Treatment, Politics and Society, Reflection, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Visitors to HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust

 

Today,  Mrs. Elke Ferner, Deputy Chair of the SPD party in the German parliament and Mrs. Evelyne Gebhard, member of the European Parliament will visit our project. Together with members of the diplomatic staff of the German Embassy and the German Consulate General we will visit a township clinic and observe one of our HOPE community health worker before heading to have a look at the community of Blikkiesdorp and our involvement there. Before going to lunch and answering all open question a visit to the Ithemba ward will round-up the visit.
For HOPE Cape Town Association and Trust it is always a pleasure to have members of various parliaments and to give insight for those in the political arena. It is important that decision maker are informed about what is going on on grass root level. European visitors learn about the health system of South Africa first hand and experience the achievements as well as the shortcomings of our local system. That helps to assist in the bilateral talks between in this case Germany and South Africa and shapes the decision-making process how best to assist this country.
Also in this sense HOPE Cape Town Association and Trust is like a bridge bringing together and in touch two worlds which are quite apart from each other looking at the health system. Germans living here in South Africa know how to appreciate the health insurance Germany is offering to them and not surprisingly a lot of people making their living now in South Africa remain members of their respective health insurance company based in Germany. It is to hope that South Africa one day is ready to install a similar system. According to government sources such a system is considered and somehow in the pipeline, even nobody knows what it will cost to implement it.

Besides that the visitors will learn to know the variety of portfolios HOPE Cape Town Association and Trust is involved in: from grass root level to academic research.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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