10 December 2021

SA needs to fly vaccines to remote rural areas

Submitted by Archy Hlahla

The Siyabuya movement today urged the South African government to look at using small aircraft and helicopters to speed up the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines to remote rural areas.

“The Airborne Lifeline Foundation is doing that in Botswana and elsewhere in southern Africa. They, or somebody like them, should be doing it here,” said Melene Rossouw, a leader of the Siyabuya movement.

 Rossouw said the inaccessibility of remote rural areas is one of the reasons that South Africa’s vaccination rate is relatively low.

“We need to get as many South Africans as possible protected by vaccinations as soon as possible,” she said. “Unless we do that, the country will continue to be vulnerable to the virus, to new variants like Omicron, and to job-destroying lockdowns.”

Rossouw said the Airborne Lifeline Foundation had successfully delivered HIV medicines to remote stations in a number of African countries and was now looking to do the same with Covid-19 vaccines.

“They have the experience and the expertise, and the government should contact them as a matter of urgency. If they cannot help, then the government should look for other small aircraft operators with a history of delivering medical supplies.”

The Airborne Lifeline Foundation was started by Johnathan Miller, a former Peace Corps director in Botswana. For eight years it flew medicines and medical staff to remote areas in Botswana, Malawi, and Zambia. Now it is distributing Covid-19 vaccines in remote parts of Botswana and is looking to do the same in Namibia, Malawi, and Zambia.

“This is an innovative solution to a problem facing many African countries, including South Africa. We should add this to our vaccine distribution network as soon as possible,” Rossouw said.

About Melene Rossouw

Melene Rossouw is the external leader of Siyabuya. She is an internationally recognized gender and human rights activist, global award winner, public speaker, moderator, facilitator, strategist, and consultant. An attorney with 13 years experience, Melene is the founder of the Women Lead Movement in South Africa.

Her accolades include being selected by the prestigious Obama Foundation as an Obama Leader in Africa (2018) and as a Mandela Washington Fellow by the US Department of State in 2019. In October 2020, she was selected as one of the 100 Most Influential Young Africans and made the Top Ten list of Most Influential Young Africans by Africa Youth Awards. She was also recently named as one of the 100 Most Influential South Africans. 

About Siyabuya

Siyabuya believes South Africa can emerge stronger from the Covid-19 pandemic. It aims to build networks across the country of people who share this belief and are working to achieve it. Those who are helping others, creating jobs, and feeding the poor, are setting examples others can emulate.

Siyabuya! aims to #MakeSAbetter by instilling a common sense of mission, built from the ground up, through ordinary South Africans engaged in active citizenry to improve their fortunes and the lives of those around them.

For more information, visit our website at www.siyabuya.org.za