As South Africa is ramping up its drive to vaccinate as many healthcare workers as possible and as quickly as possible, civil society leaders highlight this African Vaccination Week that inoculating community care workers, including social workers, should be treated with the same urgency.
“Like nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers, community care workers face a significant exposure risk to the coronavirus because they work closely with many different people every single day,” says Marc Lubner, Group CEO, Afrika Tikkun. “They urgently need access to life-saving interventions to protect themselves from Covid-19. This needs to be a priority if we want to allow them to continue to do their work without putting their lives, and the lives of their families, at risk.”
“Without the millions of indispensable men and women working in and with our communities, our nation can’t operate. Their role is invaluable in a country where the social needs are so high, widespread, and complex, especially due to the pandemic,” he added.
However, protecting community workers should be something the whole of society is invested in, Lubner notes. “Vaccinating every community worker in our country is a huge task, and whilst government is making some great steps in the right direction, things could go much faster if all stakeholders would join hands,” he says.
“If everyone, from the private sector to civil society, pulls their human, practical and financial resources, we can achieve much more, much faster, and more cost-effectively to ensure no one is left behind.”
One of the ways Afrika Tikkun could help, explains Lubner, is offer the services of its mobile clinics. “These clinics lend themselves perfectly to assist at the coalface and in the very townships where we as an organization and community workers work.”
He adds that protecting essential community workers and their families against Covid-19 benefits not just those who are vaccinated but also the entire country. “Everyone reaps the fruits of a vaccinated population, from the government and the private sector to civil society organisations like ours. Afrika Tikkun, after all, works with community workers every day. If they are safe, we all become safer! It may seem like an ominous task, but like the late president Nelson Mandela, our beloved patron, said: it only seems impossible until it’s done.”