College of Human Sciences

Elderly at double risk from Covid-19

The global pandemic caused by Covid-19 is more than a health crisis, it is a human, economic and social crisis. This requires a holistic approach in protecting the vulnerable and lowering the impact on them. In this regard, the Unisa Institute for Gender Studies in the College of Human Sciences recently hosted a webinar to discuss the impact of the pandemic and the ways which we can step up for vulnerable groups. Speakers at the webinar included Lydia Chibwe from the University of Pretoria and Lisa Vetten, gender specialist on violence against women appointed to the Commission for Gender Equality.

According to the Head of the Institute, Prof Nokuthula Mazibuko, the elderly and people with disabilities, as well as women and children, are considered the most vulnerable in our society. She said that older people are not just struggling with greater health risks but are also likely to be less capable of supporting themselves in isolation. "Although social distancing is necessary to reduce the spread of the disease, if not implemented correctly, such measures can also lead to increased social isolation of older people at a time when they may be at most need of support."

With regard to people with disabilities, she said: "Even at the best of times, persons with disabilities face challenges in accessing healthcare services, due to lack of availability, accessibility and affordability, as well as stigma and discrimination. The risks of infection from Covid-19 for persons with disabilities are compounded by other issues, which warrant specific action."

When it comes to women and children, Mazibuko reiterated that GBV has been exacerbated by Covid-19 and the lockdown in South Africa.

* Submitted by Rivonia Naidu-Hoffmeester, Communications and Marketing Specialist, College of Human Sciences

Publish date: 2020/09/14