South Africans called to action as People’s Vaccine Campaign is launched

15 January 2021 - 15:46
The C19 People’s Coalition is calling for the support of South Africans to ensure that access to and allocation of the Covid-19 vaccine is free and fair.
The C19 People’s Coalition is calling for the support of South Africans to ensure that access to and allocation of the Covid-19 vaccine is free and fair.
Image: Sergey Chayko

A campaign launched by emerging civil society group the C19 People’s Coalition is calling for the support of South Africans to ensure that access to and allocation of the Covid-19 vaccine is free and fair.

In a statement on Friday, the organisation announced it had launched the People’s Vaccine Campaign, which seeks to mobilise South Africans to help ensure equitable vaccine access and allocation.

“There is a danger that elites, powerful or dominant medical schemes, private health-care providers and other corporate interests will undermine access through growing disparities in our two-tiered health-care system and exclude the voices of workers who belong to state medical schemes, all health workers, front-line workers, working-class communities and civil society.”

It said a united response was needed to ensure a safe, equitable, urgent vaccine acquisition and rollout programme.

“We must be part of the (already ongoing) country’s discussions to shape, participate and provide oversight of and over the national vaccination rollout programme — the details of which are still sketchy and which require greater transparency.”

It highlighted “many threats” and obstacles to the procurement, rollout and administration of a national public vaccine programme, including:

  • the government’s austerity measures in a pandemic;
  • SA’s inequality — a story of two unequal health systems; 
  • the agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights;
  • vaccine nationalism and xenophobia;
  • position and treatment of community health-care workers;
  • gender disparities; and
  • disinformation and vaccine scepticism.

Claiming to be backed by 500 organisations, the movement said pressure should be put on the government, specifically regarding the National Health Insurance (NHI).

“Austerity in a time of a pandemic is self-defeating, and we challenge this policy approach. There must be increased health spending to build the capacity of the national health system, and National Health Insurance (NHI) to ensure decent and equal health care for all in SA.

“This includes full-time public sector employment for community health-care workers and the appointment of additional nurses. The terms and conditions of the 2018 PSCBC collective agreement should be restored and implemented.

“In addition, to mitigate the socio-economic impact of Covid-19 and inequality in our country, a basic income guarantee is now necessary and urgent.”

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