These days, in the age of global pandemics, global climate change, global financial systems, global migration and global inequality, we are all global citizens. Unfortunately, though, we do not yet have global voting rights. Although our governments sit in global bodies like the United Nations (UN), they rarely consult us on the resolutions they adopt. This leaves us powerless to shape some of the political processes that have the greatest impact on our lives. But there are also countries whose politics affect the whole world. One of these is the United States, whose election on 3 November 2020 is of global importance.
This morning, Sandile Buthelezi, will complete a 26-year journey through offices and corridors of hospitals and health facilities, scattered across South Africa and the region, when he takes up his new position as the Director-General (DG) of the National Department of Health.
There are rough days ahead in which we are going to see death, disease and panic. But if a pattern of questioning the bonafides of critics is entrenched it will be bad news for national unity in the response to Covid-19. Ultimately, it will leave the government with a choice: a continued lockdown enforced by brute force and fear, or a meaningless lockdown honoured only in the default. Neither is what we want, and the worst thing is that with either option, Covid-19 would be the winner.
On Monday Maverick Citizen reported on an important letter sent to President Ramaphosa by an influential group of children’s rights organisations, academics and international bodies, including UNICEF, calling for the Child Support Grant to be increased by R500 for the next six months.
Let’s be clear: Our people have no reserves left for another disaster. HIV, tuberculosis, Life Esidimeni, more and more people dying of cancer; diseases that have eaten up our reserves and capacity to respond to a catastrophe. Unemployment has sapped our morale. Hunger is endemic. Our public health systems are all overstretched.
450 US health experts send open letter to Vice President Pence on ‘Achieving a Fair and Effective response to Covid-19’
There are lessons to be learned from the US, where it appears that the Covid-19 virus may soon be entering an exponential phase of transmission. California has declared a state of emergency, a school district has closed in Seattle and a cluster of cases have been identified in New York City. In days ahead, Covid-19 may spread more rapidly and there are concerns that inequalities in the US, particularly in access to affordable healthcare and medical insurance, may facilitate more rapid transmission than in other developed countries.