Week Ahead 

16 – 20 March 2020

This national emergency demands co-operation, collaboration and common action. More than that, it requires solidarity, understanding and compassion. 

[President Cyril Ramaphosa, 15 March 2020, in his address to the nation regarding emergency measures put in place to tackle COVID-19]

 

In the light of the continued spread of COVID-19, SECTION27 has decided to suspend certain activities to prevent further spread. As such, our advice desk will no longer accept walk-ins, and will only be making telephonic consultations. Most events and meetings are delayed until further notice or will take place remotely.

Monday 16 March

SECTION27 researcher Solanga Milambo will meet with the Greater Giyani Local Mayor Basani Agnes Shibambu at their offices to discuss the restructuring of Greater Giyani Local AIDS Council and the strengthening of Civil Society Sectors in Greater Giyani.

Friday 20 March 

Head of the Education Rights programme Faranaaz Veriava will present remotely at the Joint Education Trust (JET), Education Services, an independent, non-profit organisation that works with government, the private sector, international development agencies and education institutions to improve the quality of education. She will outline strategies for developing awareness of social advocacy, as well as building frameworks for becoming social change agents in education.

In the week that was: 

Stop Stockouts Project (SSP) met at SECTION27 offices in Braamfontein to discuss advocacy opportunities regarding continued stockouts of essential contraceptive medicines.

SECTION27 convened the second civil society meeting on National Health Insurance on Tuesday 10 March. The meeting brought together activists from organisations such as the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), the Rural health advocacy project (RHAP), the People’s Health Movement (PHMSA), Cancer Alliance, the Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (NCD Alliance) and others, to further collaboration on advocacy related to NHI following the various submissions to Parliament on 29 November 2019.

SECTION27 head of Education rights programme Faranaaz Veriava wrote an op-ed on the “tragic and chilling account of the unfolding of events that led to what ought to have been the preventable death of Enock, a 13-year-old boy beginning a promising high school career.” In it, Veriava analyses the forensic report about Mpianzi’s death, detailing all the various stakeholders’ negligence, and called for the urgent need to develop regulations on school safety that pertain to camps or tours. You can read the op-ed here: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-03-12-to-avoid-another-parktown-boys-school-camp-tragedy-better-regulation-is-required/?fbclid=IwAR2oOFphpti6RIbN-pqe5IoFM67jGfjG-8hT8kX1gsyJLxFUe-F3z5Ih2fM

 

In Spotlight

London patient still HIV-free 30 months after bone marrow transplant

Two patients have been effectively cured of HIV through the use of bone-marrow transplants, which is a promising step towards finding a cure for HIV. At this point, however, Amy Green shows that it’s unlikely that this cure can be rolled out at scale for a number of critical reasons. Nonetheless, its lessons about the virus are critical to future research.

https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/03/11/london-patient-still-hiv-free-30-months-after-bone-marrow-transplant/

 

Gauteng Health MEC says department not just planning, but executing

It’s been a year since Bandile Masuku was sworn in as Gauteng Health MEC. Masuku had promised to turn the provincial department around. A year later, here’s what Masuku explains about the province’s ability to deal with Covid-19, health worker morale, National Health Insurance and corruption.

https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/03/11/gauteng-health-mec-says-department-not-just-planning-but-executing/

 

COVID-19 COVERAGE

OPINION: How do we place COVID-19 in its proper context?

Much coverage on COVID-19 seems either to swing towards hysteria or indifference. In this important article, Marcus Low puts the virus in perspective, arguing for reasoned assessments of the disease’s potential human and economic costs. Low compares Corona Virus to the context of familiar diseases like tuberculosis and influenza, but argues that “epidemics tend not to be linear”  and that “there is certainly reason to take the threat posed by COVID-19 very seriously.”

https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/03/10/opinion-how-do-we-place-covid-19-in-its-proper-context/

 

COVID-19: A visit to Tygerberg Hospital’s ward D-10

In this article, Spotlight investigated the readiness of Tygerberg hospital in the Western Cape for quarantine conditions to prevent further spread of COVID-19. Tygerberg’s newly fitted Infectious diseases Ward contains quarantine rooms, private bathrooms, separate entrances, lots of hand sanitiser and special lifts. The hospital’s Infection Prevention and Control Team was examined as a model for other healthcare institutions.

https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/03/12/covid-19-a-visit-to-tygerberg-hospitals-ward-d-10/

 

COVID-19: Elderly and people with underlying illnesses are most at risk, according to WHO

After the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a pandemic in the face of the global spread of the virus, Spotlight investigated the most at risk patients. Using data from China, the WHO and local studies, Adele Balete outlined that 60-80 year olds with existing chronic illnesses or those who smoke, had increased mortality risks from the virus, and that children under the age of nine and pregnant women were not particularly vulnerable to infection. “Very importantly,” Balete wrote, “although not reported enough, 65,972 people infected with the virus have recovered.”

https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/03/12/covid-19-elderly-and-people-with-underlying-illnesses-are-most-at-risk-according-to-who/

 

Covid-19: In Depth Interview with Prof Lynn Morris, interim head of the NICD

Mark Heywood interviewed Prof Lynn Morris, the interim head of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases about COVID-19. From the horse’s mouth, information from the interview illustrated that the NICD has been hard at work on training health professionals, modelling infection spread and developing protocols for health surveillance, testing and treatment of the virus. Morris gave updated information about international drug trials and preventative measures.

https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/03/12/covid-19-in-depth-interview-with-prof-lynn-morris-interim-head-of-the-nicd/