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Source: South Africa News Agency

As South Africa commemorates Youth Day, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has reflected on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected young people.

“Since the advent of the pandemic on our shores, we have lost 123 fellow South Africans who were 39 years old or younger, with 29 of those under the age of 30. We pay special respect to these young lives today and extend our condolences to the families and loved ones of our fallen compatriots,” the Minister said.

Tuesday marks Youth Day in South Africa – a day that pays tribute to the school pupils who lost their lives during the 16 June 1976 uprising in Soweto.

“It is imperative that we do not fall into despair as we combat COVID-19. We can never be complacent or found wanting. The Coronavirus has decimated some of the strongest health care systems and called on humanity to entirely reassess its way of living,” the Minister said.

Mkhize said COVID-19 has changed the way things are done and has forced humanity to choose between life or external trappings.

“It is possible to fight back. Like the youth of 1976, it takes consciousness, discipline, co-operation and courage to turn the tide against this invisible enemy. 

“We can turn the tide against this enemy. As a country we can maintain control over the Coronavirus,” Mkhize said.

Minister launches COVID-19 initiative

The Minister was speaking during the official launch of the Multi-sectoral Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on Social Behavioural Change. 

The MAC on Social Behavioural Change has been convened by the Minister of Health and the Minister of Social Development in the spirit of multi-sector collaboration.

“Whilst the most urgent work of the MAC will be to facilitate diverse stakeholder cooperation in our COVID-19 response, the work naturally extends into the tenets of the Health Compact and ultimately the National Health Insurance in that it also facilitates action for fair access to quality health care and a long and healthy life for all South Africans,” the Minister said.

Mkhize said government was excited about this initiative and looked forward to gaining deeper insight into the desires and will of the South African people.

He said the initiative is an opportunity to find out how government can partner together with citizens.

“COVID-19 has traversed across sectors of society – in some instances merely uncovering what was already broken, but in other cases, inspiring breakthroughs and innovation.

“But today, we are taking the fight outside the clinics, the hospitals and administrative buildings. This has to be a grassroots movement. The fight against COVID-19 is going to be won at home, in a church, in a taxi, on the streets, in a restaurant…and in every part of our social lives.

“It is not about whether there is a curfew or there is a policeman watching your movements. This is now about every South African taking the fight on,” the Minister said.

He said South Africa needs to build a new culture – at a ward and district level – so that everyone out there knows that there is one message on working together to fight this pandemic.

“This is the time that we need to be more united as we move on. It’s no longer going to be about what the government has said or done – it will be about how each individual responds,” Mkhize said. –

MIL OSI Africa