Bulletin 9: SADC Regional Response to COVID-19
This Bulletin No. 9 of the COVID-19 response, brings you the WHO guidelines on health financing, to guide Member States as they invest in strengthening health systems during and beyond the COVID-19 crisis. The past week has also seen the hosting of the Global COVID-19 virtual conference held alongside the 23rd International AIDS Conference (IAC) which was also held virtually. The COVID-19 conference enabled engagement between the scientific community and other sectors to share information on latest science and new developments on COVID-19. The situation in the SADC region continues to escalate in some Member States, while in others the infection curve has remained low and within manageable levels.
Recently, some countries on the continent and in the SADC region have announced plans to re-open air travel and land borders, to that end, the report provides recommendations that Member States can follow, while doing so. Increased mental health concerns among frontline workers should not go unattended, it remains a critical aspect in the provision of the full continuum of care. Similarly, the report offers some guidelines on managing the resumption of work measures from the perspective of labour and employment and further takes stock of measures that Member States are putting in place, at a time when Member States are re-opening their economies and addressing the disruptions in the workplace.
Recent security events in the region and elsewhere indicate a deterioration of the humanitarian situation further aggravated by the pandemic and how the security challenges are causing displacement and likely negative repercussions that this will have on women and children, leading to another crisis of gender based violence. With disruptions in the food supply chain, the impact on food security and livelihoods is biting deeper and the magnitude of vulnerability will increase. Measures to assess the situation on food security and vulnerability are underway through a joint assessment by the SADC Secretariat and the UN World Food Programme (WFP). The results will inform policy and programme interventions.
Key recommendations from the report are;
(i) Member States are urged to adopt the WHO guidelines highlighted in the report as part of the implementation of response measures.
(ii) As countries open-up borders, they should make decisions and take action based on the data obtained from strong surveillance systems, case finding and testing to know where the virus is.
Re-opening of air traffic
(iii) Member States are urged to follow infection prevention guidelines from WHO and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) when engaging in the process of resuming air travel
Labour and Workplace resumption
(iv) Member States are urged to put in place psychosocial support plans to support staff including frontline workers in the workplace.
(v) In order to manage the health and economic dimensions, Member States are urged to protect workers by providing the necessary protective equipment and engage in social dialogues to find solutions to workplace related challenges.
Law Enforcement and Security
(vi) Member States are urged to continue to monitor the emerging security events occurring during this period of COVID-19 and also manage other potential risks, such as gender based violence which arise in security and humanitarian settings
Economic and Social Protection
(vii) Member States are urged to put in place social protection measures to cushion the population from the effects of loss of income.
Food Security and Vulnerabilities
(viii) Member States are urged to actively participate in the ongoing National Vulnerability Assessments and implement the recommendations when they are published.
(ix) Member States are urged to advocate for increased budget allocations for relief food aid, in order to cushion vulnerable households during the COVID-19 period.
(x) Member States are urged to participate in the national consultations on theDraft Harmonized Guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Implementation of the Transport, Trade Facilitation Measures within the Tripartite Region during the COVID-19.