The Botswana Labour Migrants Association (BoLAMA) has called on the private sector, more especially in mining, to intervene and support the government in the fight against the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19).
BoLAMA coordinator, Kitso Phiri said the government indicated challenges in mobilising resources to fight the pandemic with P22 million out of its P50 million COVID-19 budget already spent. He added that they believed that mining companies could pledge some funds in support of government’s fight against COVID-19 as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR).
“This will lessen the stress already placed on an otherwise stretched budget of the government. We are elated that the Government of Botswana has been swift in invoking certain protocols under the Public Health Act, and declaring a public health emergency consistent with directions from the WHO. We call on government to ensure that implementation of the Public Health Act and International Health Regulations is done with full respect for the dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons,” he said.
Phiri also called on Batswana to comply with the preventive measures issued by the health ministry on how to protect themselves against COVID-19. He noted that this year when they join the world in commemorating World TB Day, they would focus on COVID-19, another respiratory disease, which has devastated health systems, economies and disrupted life around the world.
He added that as they commemorate this year’s World TB Day, they would also have all the public health care workers in their prayers for
“The true extent of the impact of this disease has not been scientifically or empirically shown on the following constituency; mineworkers with (tuberculosis, silicosis, pneumoconiosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), miners living with HIV and hypertension, a majority of whom are BoLAMA members. Lessons learned from the TB response are that, diseases of this nature prey on the poor, marginalised and vulnerable populations. Mineworkers who are already suffering from chronic and debilitating occupational diseases will be most vulnerable to COVID-19 should it-hit Botswana,” he said.
Phiri also stated that an average ex-mine worker is 60-years-old, a remote area dweller, unemployed, has to travel long distances to reach health facilities, suffers from a non-communicable disease and is likely un- educated.
He pointed out that those risk factors formed social ingredients of acute vulnerability to that pandemic. He said they needed to ensure that targeted responses or measures are put in place for this constituency as they prepare for the unknown.