BONELA CALLS FOR A RIGHT BASED APPROACH AMID COVID -19 CRISIS
In view of government’s decision to quarantine all citizens and residents coming from South Africa per the Ministry of Health and Wellness Savingram MH20/33/VII dated 24 March 2020 as addressed to all Ports of Entry Officers, Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) would like to make the following observations and recommendations.
While we acknowledge that the Ministry is under duress and has to take decisive measures in the interest of broader public health, BONELA posits that decisions made should still show respect for the rights of those detained and undergoing clinical supervision. These include the right to dignity, right to non-discrimination, the right basic necessities such as food and hygiene, and the right to protection from diseases among others.
Greater preparedness for all manner of eventualities is essential and necessary to ensure that the response to COVID -19 respects the rights of those detained there as well as for the general public. The Rights based approach requires us to provide timely, accurate and relevant information to allay public fear, address misconceptions and standardize knowledge of the disease to facilitate a more effective response.
Still in the context of rights, adequate prevention measures should be ensured including the provision of protective commodities such as masks, gloves, sanitizers, soaps for those detained as well as service providers such as Health care workers, Police officers and the Army as well as Volunteers and other to minimize and or eliminate the risk of infection..
In addition, psychosocial support should be provided as a co – element and integral part of the quarantine protocols. In that context, Government should consider establishing a COVID- 19 dedicated call center to facilitate access to psychosocial support, information sharing and dissemination
BONELA further recommends that appropriate measures should be employed to guard against stigma and discrimination both within the quarantine zones and generally in the public sphere in relation to those who had been quarantined and their families.
Another critical human rights imperative is for government to fast track the establishment of appropriate and reasonable accountability mechanisms for recourse and prompt remediation in the event of any violations even in the course of the ongoing emergency situation.
Finally, BONELA calls upon all members of the public wherever they may be to cooperate and take seriously the officially stipulated guidelines and normative standards for preventing new infections. These include;
- Deep and Frequent washing of hands with soap
- Use of sanitizers
- Avoid touching one’s face with unwashed hands
- Social distancing
- Avoiding social and public gatherings.
- Avoid unnecessary travel
- Get the correct information on COVID -19 (The Ministry of Health and Wellness as produced a standard COVID – 19 Fact sheet and is available in all public clinics nearest to you.
For more information, contact BONELA on: