SANF 20 no 32 – by Nyarai Kampilipili
SADC Member States have been commended for putting in place vibrant measures to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, commonly known as COVID-19.
These measures include investing more resources in strengthening public health systems as well as encouraging citizens to observe and enforce strict anti-coronavirus standards such as social distancing at workplaces, regular health screenings and wearing of masks at all times.
Other countries also introduced social protection measures to cushion the population from the effects of loss of income, particularly due to the economic lockdown imposed by a number of countries in response to the pandemic.
SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax said these efforts being put by Member States should continue to ensure that the fight against Covid-19 is won.
“Allow me to commend all SADC Member States for the difficult decisions and the rigorous measures put in place to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19,” Dr Tax said during the SADC Council of Ministers held ahead of the 40th SADC Summit that be held in a virtual format and coordinated from Maputo, Mozambique on 17 August.
She said vibrant and rigorous measures had allowed most Member States to reduce human suffering and minimize damage to SADC economies.
The severity and rapid spread of COVID-19, an infectious disease for which there is yet to be a cure, has been described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the most serious health emergency in generations.
COVID-19 has brought about negative impacts across all sectors and has affected members of society differently.
For example, women who make up the majority of the front line workers in the health and social sector are highly exposed to the virus, increasing their chances of contracting the disease.
Furthermore, the informal sector, which is dominated by women, has been impacted by measures imposed by a number of countries in response to the pandemic, thus affecting the livelihoods of many women.
Another impact of COVID-19 is that it has overwhelmed the health sector, affecting access to reproductive health services for women.
Limited access to reproductive health services may lead to an increase in unplanned pregnancies as well as infant and maternal mortality.
Given this negative impacts, it is commendable that most SADC Member States have put in place measures to curb the spread of the virus as well as impact on their citizens.
For example, countries such as South Africa and Zimbabwe have put in place relief grants for vulnerable groups, in particular, individuals who are currently unemployed and do not receive any other form of social grants.
In Mozambique, Civil Society Organizations in collaboration with government provided assistance to vulnerable groups in rural areas through provision of food stuffs, masks and sanitisers.
Such measures have assisted in the relief of many vulnerable groups who had been subjected to suffering as a result of the unforeseen and abrupt change of lifestyle.
The SADC Secretariat has carried out an in-depth analysis on the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 on SADC communities, and recommendations from the study will be presented to the Heads of State and Government for their consideration when they meet on 17 August.
The 40th SADC Summit is running under the theme “SADC: 40 Years Building Peace and Security, Promoting Development and Resilience to Face Global Challenges.”
At the summit, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi assuming the rotating SADC chair from President John Magufuli of Tanzania.
With respect to the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana will assume the chairmanship from President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe. sardc.net
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