The recent global outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought into question South Africa’s capacity to address health crises expeditiously. There has been much panic and misgiving regarding the epidemiology of the virus, i.e. its distribution, patterns and the possible ways of controlling and containing it. While there is much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, what is very clear is that healthcare investment is crucial to equipping countries to address unanticipated pandemics. It is a matter of urgency that the private sector rises to the occasion and plays its part in curtailing the growth of infection rates in South Africa. As we come to terms with this crisis and find ways to prevent it from spreading further, it is more than ever crucial to invest in improving access to quality healthcare. RH Bophelo prides itself on understanding the role of investing in the healthcare sector. Investment in healthcare means that the country will be able to meet the medical needs of the population. The RH Group and its associated partners have designated five hospitals as COVID-19 sites across five provinces to ensure that the Department of Health has the capacity to contain the virus.
On the 11th of March 2020, South Africa was reported to have 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19; on the 23rd of March, the numbers were at 402 confirmed cases. Today, just over 700 South Africans have tested positive for COVID-19. The virus is spreading at an alarming rate, and so is public concern. As the infection rate of COVID-19 grows, so are concerns regarding whether the public health system will cope. For years, public hospitals have been struggling to serve a majority of the population due to insufficient resources such as ICU beds, which are critical aspects of quality healthcare. Just last year, operations at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and Charlotte Maxeke were cancelled due to there not being enough ICU beds. If we don’t adopt a robust approach to this pandemic, the virus might leave behind far-reaching socio-economic consequences that could take years to undo.
Economist Sifiso Skenjana notes that in addition to factors such as the Eskom crisis, economic recession and an unstable geopolitical landscape, Coronavirus could very well affect Moody’s rating of South Africa and global economies as a whole. “First, the coronavirus pandemic means there will be lower production globally, as factories have closed and more countries are moving to shut down business-productive activities. This is the supply side impact. There will be fewer produced goods as a result. Factory output numbers are at record lows globally and locally.” Part of minimising the impact that the virus has on economies is ensuring that countries are equipped to manage it and devise sustainable solutions. This means that healthcare systems need to be buttressed and ameliorated, which requires the private and public sector to work collaboratively.
South Africa’s public healthcare system is already under so much pressure and there is a risk of it collapsing under the circumstances that we have found ourselves in. To prevent COVID-19 from dispersing further than it already has, the private sector will have to share in the responsibility of ensuring that South Africa has the resources to cope with this and other health crises. Infrastructure, efficient operations and accessibility are crucial to the health readiness of South Africa. As University of the Western Cape public health professor Helen Schneider told the Daily Maverick: “If we are to contain COVID-19 in South Africa, the private health sector – providers, hospitals, pharmacies, emergency services etc – will have no choice but to come to the party and share their resources.”
In the wake of COVID-19, we have seen an escalation in the need for healthcare facilities. In response to the country’s requirements, RH Bophelo and its associates will be designating five hospitals that will be used to treat COVID-19 patients. “We are availing the hospitals to the Department of Health. Some of our hospitals can be turned into specialised facilities with the necessary respirators and facilities for intensive care,” says RH Bophelo’s CEO, Quinton Zunga.
Invest in health by partnering with RH Bophelo in its mission to increase its capital allocation into the healthcare sector and improve accessibility. Investing in infrastructure and resources such as hospitals, testing equipment and beds will play a major role in helping the government to meet the ever-increasing demand for high-quality and reliable healthcare services, and it will ensure that the country has the resources needed to deal with unexpected health crises speedily.
Davis, R. (2020). Private and Public Healthcare Will Have to Bridge Gulf in Event of Covid-19 Epidemic. Retrieved from https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-03-12-private-and-public-healthcare-will-have-to-bridge-gulf-in-event-of-covid-19-epidemic/
Health 24. (2020). Coronavirus Morning Update: SA Cases Race to 116, with 14 local transmissions. Retrieved from https://www.health24.com/Medical/Infectious-diseases/Coronavirus/coronavirus-morning-update-sa-cases-race-to-116-with-14-local-transmissions-20200318
Skenjana, S. (2020). Now, More Than ever, Moody’s Downgrade Looms. Retrieved from https://www.fin24.com/Opinion/sifiso-skenjana-now-more-than-ever-moodys-downgrade-looms-20200316