SAHRDN CALLS ON SADC MINISTERS OF HEALTH TO IMPLEMENT A CONCERTED AND COORDINATED REGIONAL RESPONSE TO CURB THE SPREAD OF THE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS DISEASE (COVID -19) PANDEMIC

16th Mar 2020

SAHRDN CALLS ON SADC MINISTERS OF HEALTH TO IMPLEMENT A CONCERTED AND COORDINATED REGIONAL RESPONSE TO CURB THE SPREAD OF THE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS DISEASE (COVID -19) PANDEMIC

Today the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN) called on the SADC member states Ministers of Health to implement a concerted and coordinated regional response to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (covid -19) pandemic

“Africa’s health situation and security is at crossroads. We are now facing a monumental health challenge with far reaching and debilitating consequences on our population, economies and cultural lives” wrote Arnold Tsunga the Chairperson of the SAHRDN in the urgent memo.

During this difficult period of global health security threats caused by the novel corona virus (COVID-19), the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN) submits this policy advisory memorandum to heads of health ministries in the SADC region desirous of the need to promote and protect the right to health for all and safeguard the integrity of population health in the SADC region. This policy advisory memo is a call for the SADC Bloc to Unite, Invest, Prepare, Prevent and Respond!

Noting that a number of the SADC member states have started taking individual and uncoordinated policy decisions on combating the COVID-19 virus and its impact, the SAHRDN advisory memo provides policy imperatives as a way of strengthening the SADC Protocol on Health.  The response needed is a call for leadership, coordination, commitment, and energy.

“As SADC we already face a high burden of communicable diseases putting a strain on our underfunded, weak health systems, which will further be impacted by the emergency responses we currently need to halt the COVID-19virus” added Tsunga. 

The memo notes that clinicians in the SADC region are largely not experienced in dealing with a virus of this nature, equipment, medical resources and infrastructure in the SADC states are yet to handle a complexity of this magnitude and the SADC States emergency response capabilities remain unknown at this level of global health security threat.

The memo also notes that the SADC borders are porous, making COVID-19 virus a regional public health threat that can unleash a humanitarian catastrophe of immeasurable proportions in the sub-region. No country in SADC can stand on its own and fight this war. It’s either the SADC states swim or sink together.

For the full memo please click here

For inquiries and further information on this issue please contact Washington Katema the SAHRDN Regional Programmes Manager on wkatema@southernafricadefenders.africa or +27736202608

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