COVID-19 in Africa: Healthcare, Panic, Townships & the Gospel

COVID-19 in Africa: Healthcare, Panic, Townships & the Gospel

There are unique challenges presented by COVID-19 in Africa. We need to think beyond ourselves and recognise that our actions can save or sacrifice others.

Transcript

“At the moment the expression of this disease has been that of a middle-to-upper class type of disease in terms of setting. Where it finds itself. People who have travelled and contacted people who have travelled. So while it still has that character I would encourage Christians who find themselves in those situations to protect people that are around them. Because they have the means. I think this is a time when we need to see our health – our personal health – as… or measure it as the health of the collective. Not necessarily individually. So, if me and the people around me and the community that I can reach are all healthy that mean’s I am healthy. Not just personally.”

Welcome to The Gospel Coalition Africa Podcast

Blaque: Welcome back to The Gospel Coalition Africa Podcast. I’m Blaque Nubon. If you are joining us for the first time I’m the regular host here. And we have a special guest who is doing the right things.

Khuliso: I tried to hide that! It didn’t quite work.

Blaque: It happened to Steph Curry I don’t know if you saw that. So he had an interview and he was about to cough. He stopped himself!

Khuliso: Oh he did? He held it?

Blaque: Yeah he was like “it’s not gonna happen!” But if you are joining us for the first time – lovely to have you with us.

COVID-19: What Should we do?

And we are talking about Coronavirus – COVID-19. And we have invited Dr Khuliso to help us think through it. It has obviously landed in Africa. As you are watching this you should know. And particularly in South Africa we’ve had a number of cases and they just tend to be increasing but the day. So we just wanna think through this whole situation and how should we be responding to it as people. How should we be responding to it as Christians? And I think lastly just that as people who live in Africa with the kind of diseases we have, the kind of viruses we have, what does this mean for all of us?

Can’t hand shake you. Can’t fist-pump you. I’m gonna try so hard not to touch my face throughout this whole thing.

Bro thank you so much for joining us. Can’t hand shake you. Can’t fist-pump you. I’m gonna try so hard not to touch my face throughout this whole thing. But yeah man welcome back.

Khuliso: Thank you.

Blaque: Thank you for always wanting to have us in your home. Yeah bro. So for those who don’t know you man. Who are you? Having obviously watched previous podcasts. What do you do? Yeah and how do you know Jesus? Quick facts for us.

Introducing Dr Khuliso Ramashia

Khuliso: Yoh – it could be a long story. I’ll try and summarise it. So my name is Khuliso. Surname Ramashia. I am Venda as you can see by the threads that I’m wearing.

Blaque: Hallelujah.

Khuliso: I can’t speak it though – but I am getting there. I’m married to Bethany. We’ve been married for about three years now. I am a doctor by profession. I may not look it but I am! I’ve just finished my community service. And I’m in a stage where I’m trying to find what I would like to do with my life long term. One of my passions is this – talking about medicine. Particularly for the… I would call it the average South African. So yah – I feel really privileged to be here.

Blaque: Do you have a channel bro?

Khuliso: I do, I do. It’s called #Knifed. So I’ve got this dream about being a surgeon in my other life. So the idea of the channel is to chop up medicine into bite-sized chunks for the average South African. So check it out on YouTube please!

Blaque: Check it out. #Knifed. And quick story about how you know Jesus.

I think because I always knew I had a safe cushion at home there was no draw towards actively seeking out Jesus. But he sought me out.

Meeting Jesus

Khuliso: So I always grew up. ‘Always!’ I grew up in a Christian family. But I think as what happens with a lot of young guys, I went to varsity. I went far. I went really far. I was in exile man. I’m from Johannesburg originally but I studied in Cape Town. And I think when I was there for the first couple of years I kind of drifted away from the faith. The world was very enticing. And I think because I always knew I had a safe cushion at home there was no draw towards actively seeking out Jesus. But he sought me out. In my 4th year a lot happened. Incidentally that’s when Bethany and I started dating – praise God for her! And yah I think that’s when I kind of started taking my faith seriously. And here I am!

Blaque: That’s dope bro. Thanks man. Praise the Lord for that. And here you are. God has cured you from one disease and now you have to help other people deal with their disease. So God cured you from sin, but we know that there’s other diseases that affect us. Threaten our lives. Particularly the Coronavirus.

Key Facts about Coronavirus

So for somebody who is watching this, which I don’t think somebody who is watching might not know about Coronavirus. You are watching this because you probably heard something about it. You know something about it. But just from a medical perspective – coz obviously there is a lot of noise that’s happening on social media – yeah. Chop it up for us! Give us those, what did you say?

Coronavirus is actually a family or a group of viruses that have popped up at various times in history.

Khuliso: Chopping up medicine into bite-sized chunks.

Blaque: Into bite-sizes. Yeah. Can you help us with Corona. What is Corona bro?

Khuliso: So there’s a lot to take in. So I will have to split it. I will talk about the biology. What is Coronavirus as a virus. then I will talk about what we call virology. So how do we as a society engage with this particular virus, and how it’s affected us. I will talk about a few things we’ve seen in the past. And then just some ways that we can deal with it practically as the everyday South African.

The Coronavirus Family

So in terms of the virus, Coronavirus it’s actually a family or a group of viruses that have popped up at various times in history. So you know in families you may have your unit family and then somewhere down the line some cousin pops up and he is like “hey! I am one of you guys.”

Blaque: “I heard you guys won the Lotto”

This particular Coronavirus – this rogue one – is more violent than the other family members.

Khuliso: Yes exactly! So that’s exactly what COVID-19 has done. So if you remember back to 2003 – that’s when the first Coronavirus actually popped up. That was SARS. The big SARS outbreak. That’s like the ancestor Coronavirus. And with time in history many have appeared. But the specifics about the virus is 2 things. One: it’s a respiratory virus. So it affects anywhere in the respiratory tract. That’s the nose all the way to the lungs. The second thing is that in most people it doesn’t actually cause significant disease. So Coronaviruses have been popping up in history since ’03 – just causing the common cold actually.

Blaque: Wow.

Khuliso: But this particular one – this rogue one – is a little bit more violent than the other family members. And hence the type of disease that it’s cause globally. So that’s the nature of the virus. For interest’s sake, corona mean’s crown – I am sure you know – in Latin. When you look at the virus under a microscope that’s where it gets the name. Fun fact. Do with it what you will.

Corona mean’s crown in Latin. When you look at the virus under a microscope that’s where it gets the name.

4 Ways Coronavirus Affects People who are Exposed

In terms of how we engage with it as a society the numbers are dynamic – coz we are discovering new cases every day. But as far as I have seen and this is probably about two days old, these facts, there are 4 clusters of people that engage with the virus that will display what we call a clinical picture.

Group 1: Asymptomatic

So group number 1 will be completely asymptomatic. They may engage with the virus, maybe someone sneezes in the atmosphere, but nothing will happen to them. They won’t test positive. They will have no symptoms, they will have no serious disease. Unfortunately though we don’t know what percentage of the population this constitutes. But we do know that this group exists.

For 80% of people that engage coronavirus – it will breach their system – be in their respiratory tract. But they will have no symptoms and they will have no disease.

Group 2: System Breach but no Symptoms

There is a second group. This group will engage with the virus, so someone sneezes on them, and they will test positive for the virus. So the virus will breach their system – be in their respiratory tract. But they will have no symptoms and they will have no disease. That’s 80% of people that engage the virus. That’s quite a big number.

Blaque: So how would they know that they have the virus?

Khuliso: So the only way is if, let’s say I was in an area that’s at the moment endemic for the virus: Italy, China. Or I just have a big suspicion and I am like let me just go to a practitioner and test.

Blaque: Ah I see, OK.

Khuliso: And I just happen to test positive. That’s that cohort of the population.

Group 3: Quick Recovery

Group number 3 represents 15%. That’s people who engage the virus and will test positive. They will have symptoms. So the things you have heard about: Fever, and what we refer to as upper-respiratory type symptoms. Things like a cough, sore throat etc.

15% of people who engage the virus will test positive. They will have symptoms but the virus will self-resolve

Blaque: OK

Khuliso: But that’s where it’s gonna end. They will test positive and simply have symptoms. And the virus will what we call ‘self-resolve’. That’s a feature of most viruses in the world. You get them after a week or so they find their way out of your system. Like a cold.

Blaque: Ah I see. So your body fights it.

Khuliso: Your body fights it by itself. And that represents 15% of the population [of those who engage the virus]

Group 4: Serious Disease Development

Then the final 4-5% is the percentage that I think has caused a lot of the attention around the virus. That’s people who will engage the virus, test positive, may or may not have symptoms, but they will develop serious disease. And may possibly need hospital admission. Including ICU. So these are people, as far as the science has seen, I can categorise them into 3 groups. The one is the elderly. People above 60. I don’t think 60 is old by the way, but let’s just say it.

Immunocompromised in the first world is often people with cancers. But in settings like ours it’s people with severe HIV, uncontrolled diabetes etc.

Blaque: That’s within the 5%?

Khuliso: That is within the 4-5%. So it’s the elderly. People who are immunocompromised – which I think we can talk about later. In the first world that is often people with cancers. But in settings like ours that is people with severe HIV, people with uncontrolled diabetes etc. And then the 3rd group is people who have pre-existing what we call cardiopulmonary diseases. Cardio refers to the heart. Pulmonary refers to the lungs. So people who have had previous heart attacks. People with COPD [Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease] which is a disease of smoking long-term. That kind of stuff. So that cohort is quite vulnerable and can get quite sick.

Blaque: Sure. Sheesh bro. This is quite enlightening. At least for me as well. And hopefully for somebody out there. Because all that we have been getting is “you get the thing you die.”

Khuliso: Yah. Same time.

Blaque: You know what I mean?

Is there a Need to Panic?

Everyone has been trying to figure out is it catching babies? Is it catching old people? Who is it catching? Am I at risk or whatever the case is. So I think for me I want you to elaborate on this. Because when I hear that I am like “OK cool.” At least all the hype has died down in my mind. But what are other ways that you can try and help people just sift through the noise. So is there a need to panic? So like for the general population? Should we be panicking? Should we… because now people are obviously going into the stores and buying like everything. Because another rumour was just that it gives you diarrhoea. So everyone was buying tissue.

Should we be panicking? Should we..? Because now people are going into the stores and buying like everything!

Khuliso: Toilet paper stock out.

Blaque: Yeah, you know what I mean? My wife was at the shops a couple of days ago and this one dude had like I think 20-50 toothpastes. I’m like what are you gonna do with like 50 toothpastes tubes bra? I mean I don’t know! Do you have a dragon that you are brushing his teeth in your dungeon or something? I don’t know. But there are a lot of things bro. So should we… is there a cause for this panic? Or rather is there justification for the panic?

So I am hearing what you are saying – you are putting those categories. How should I be thinking through all of this stuff? Should I panic? Or should I just be like “alright cool – I am chilled.” Should I just go and check even if I am in an area that is not affected? Should all of go check or should all of us quarantine ourselves? What are some of your practical advices?

We need a Dynamic Response

Khuliso: Let me put two things out there. Number one is that there is no simple answer to this. And the correct answer is going to be dynamic. So with any type of outbreak – I am not a public health specialist – I think they will say it better than I do. But they will tell you that at different points, and this is different points in the natural history of the outbreak, there’s different considerations. Different ways that are most appropriate to behave. So it is difficult to have an answer now that will be relevant in two weeks’ time. So it is tough. That is the one aspect.

At different points in the natural history of the outbreak, there’s different considerations.

We Should Never Panic

The second aspect that I want to put out there is that I don’t at any point – particularly as a Christian – encourage panic. I mentioned before that the Coronavirus has it’s name because it looks like a crown under a microscope. And I have said before to people I have been speaking to, I think the aspect of having a crown and having dominance and a very strong influence over our society is a feature of this virus and what comes with it. And I suspect that as a society we’ve looked to the virus as what rules us, as opposed to the real owner of the crown; that being Jesus.

Blaque: Amen!

Khuliso: And I think as Christians that’s something we really, really need to wrestle with before we go out and stock up toilet people.

Blaque: Sure.

I suspect that as a society we’ve looked to the virus as what rules us, as opposed to the real owner of the crown; that being Jesus.

The Burden of Disease in South Africa

Khuliso: OK so that being said… Look, like I said it is a difficult one. I would say we need to be aware of our context. So like I mentioned there’s the Western world, or the first world, and there is where we live. And our burden of disease – particularly in South Africa – is already quite high. And we have got a number of categories that form this burden of disease. So diseases of lifestyle: things like high blood pressure, diabetes. We’ve got infectious disease that already exists: things like pneumonia, diarrhoea. We’ve got HIV and AIDS which causes people to be immunocompromised. And associated with that we have TB. And the forth aspect we have trauma. People are in car accidents every day, getting stabbed, etc. So we’ve already got a very big burden as a society. And I think it’s not… You see we are stuck in the middle of two situations. On the one hand we can’t ignore this new thing that falls into our burden.

We’ve already got a very big burden of disease as a society… Yet we can’t ignore this new thing

Blaque: Yep

Khuliso: Into infectious disease. Simply because “we already are so burdened why should we take in a new thing?” Because it is going to have an effect so we have to think about it. But at the same time, if we completely ignore what we have an focus on that, people with already existing disease, people who need health care, people who need attention, are gonna get neglected. Funds are gonna be directed that way etc. So it’s a difficult one to thing about. And I think we need to just take a step back and think about where we are. And start looking at the science. Well first looking at Jesus, looking at the science, and then instinctively and wisely applying that to how we go about our everyday.

When Should I Get Tested for COVID-19?

I will make an example. In terms of things like quarantining and going to get checked out. Things like this must be evidence driven. So if I’m sitting at home and I am a local of South Africa and I haven’t really engaged with society, and I have no symptoms, I personally – this is my personal opinion, not as a doctor. I personally see no benefit to go and get tested.

Blaque: Sure.

Khuliso: Another reason why is that if I do have it, which I likely don’t, but if I do, I am gonna put other people at risk unnecessarily. Because I am not sick enough to be in a hospital type of thing. So those are things that I think we should think about. I would say if you have symptoms like I mentioned: fever, cough, etc. which are new. The key word is new. Remember people have allergies. Allergies make people cough and sneeze all the time. We have smokers in society. Smokers are coughing all the time. So if you are already coughing and you’ve been coughing for a long time, chances are there is nothing new that has changed.

If something has changed – you are coughing more frequently, you have a fever, that type of thing. Then I would say get tested.

But if something has changed; you are coughing more frequently, now you have a fever, that type of thing. That type of thing. Then I would say get tested.

Have you Been Exposed to Someone who Travelled Recently?

If you live in a society, of if you live in a setting, where someone you know has travelled to an endemic country, and they come back and they weren’t able to self-isolate, which is quite… what is the word I am trying to find… In the South African setting that is a likely finding. We don’t have big houses. People live in you know settings where there is more than 5 people in a home. So if you have got that situation then your risk is a little big higher. I that setting I would say “perhaps get tested.” But I don’t think the mass flocking to the health system is for everyone. It’s not gonna be helpful actually. And I think we need to sit back, and like I say, trust the Lord and trust the patterns of thinking and the intellect that the Lord has given us, to engage with it and ask serious questions and let that influence our behaviour.

Trust the Lord and trust the patterns of thinking and the intellect that the Lord has given us. Engage and ask serious questions and let that influence your behaviour.

Challenges in the Townships of South Africa

Blaque: Sure. That’s helpful. For people who live in less fortunate communities. So for somebody who is watching this who doesn’t live in South Africa obviously we have townships. Townships are densely populated. Only black people live there and people who otherwise are economically disadvantaged. Don’t have medical aid most of the time. Don’t have access to like sufficient health care. And so the fear is if this thing gets there, and people obviously live in such close proximity there. And we were chatting earlier on there is no… so even telling somebody there that they need to self-quarantine is like “bro you live in a shack with 10 other people. How are you gonna quarantine yourself there?” And then your shack is attached to 10 other shacks, whatever the case is.

Townships are densely populated. People don’t have medical aid most of the time and don’t have access to sufficient health care.

So I think I am asking the question for two people. So the person who has somebody who works for them. So the middle / upper class person who lives in the suburb who has somebody who lives in a township who works for them. How should they be treating this? In relation to their helper or the person that works for them. And then for that helper. You know what I mean? As I am asking this question I am thinking should people be like “hey listen, I am not coming to work. Because you guys went to Italy last week. But I still want my pay!” So give me my pay because if I don’t get paid obviously stuff is gonna be rough.

Khuliso: Exactly.

Blaque: It’s probably also a hard one but how would you help us navigate that?

Navigating Interactions as a Christian

Khuliso: Yoh. Difficult. And I think that’s where our heart as Christians really needs to shine and be different. This is an opportunity. The Lord always calls us to be in the world but not of it. These are opportunities to display that. So like we were talking earlier, at the moment the expression of this disease has been that of a middle-to-upper class type of disease in terms of setting. Where it finds itself. People who have travelled and contacted people who have travelled. So while it still has that character I would encourage Christians who find themselves in those situations to protect people that are around them. Because they have the means. I think this is a time when we need to see our health – our personal health – as… or measure it as the health of the collective. Not necessarily individually.

The Lord always calls us to be in the world but not of it. These are opportunities to display that.

So, if me and the people around me and the community that I can reach are all healthy that mean’s I am healthy. Not just personally. So, it’s a difficult one.

Loving your Helper

Because you know we live in… we don’t all live in the same settings. People have children. There is a number of factors. But I would encourage Christian brothers and sisters who are privileged to encourage the people who help them at home to stay at home. And I would go even as far as to say still pay them. To show your commitment to them. And I say this because, like you mentioned, the quarantining ability of a middle-to-upper class person and someone staying in a densely populated area are completely different. And that strongly, from a public health perspective, that strongly affects the spread of the disease and how sick people will get.

I would encourage Christian brothers and sisters who are privileged to encourage the people who help them at home to stay at home – and still pay them.

Self-isolation Challenges

So if I am a middle class person and I have a home of 4, and that home has 3 rooms, I can remain in a room with an ensuite bathroom for a week and be completely fine. Family around me will be unexposed and we will move on after a week. But if the same person, or a person with the same exposure, goes into – like you mentioned – a shack that has maybe 10 people, one shared bathroom, one kitchen, and people are sharing rooms, the whole shack is going to be exposed. Without a doubt. And I can guarantee that someone in that shack will fall into these burden of disease categories that I mentioned. And we don’t know how the virus interacts with people with that burden of disease who don’t have the ability to self-isolate. So it’s a completely different beast that will be dealt with. And I think that is something that we should think about.

Relating to your second question – that’s very difficult. From a number of perspectives. From science, like I mentioned, we haven’t seen the virus in South African society enough to know how it behaves with our burden, our existing burden. That’s scary. Because we just don’t know. We actually just don’t know. From a social and economic perspective, again it is tough. Because perhaps you don’t have an employer that’s thinking the way we are trying to encourage. And they say “well you don’t come to work, you don’t get paid.” That’s a serious consideration. And that’s a tough one. There’s families who may be dependent on that person whose only source of income is in a Coronavirus exposed area. What does such a person do? Areas like taxis where you know the exposure’s quite high and there’s limited ways to protect yourself. Those are difficult situations. Towards the end I’ll give some practical tips.

Jesus Still Wears the Crown

But I think again, like I mentioned, we should shift the crown that we are looking towards. We need to acknowledge that our ability to intervene as humans is finite. And that’s at all levels. Even in the Western world with the most simplest disease and the most gifted hands, our ability to intervene is limited. And we need to acknowledge that. And still do it! But still trust that there is a realm and there is an area that’s God’s turf and we need to be OK with that.

There is a realm and there is an area that’s God’s turf and we need to be OK with that.

How Should we Pray for Coronavirus?

Blaque: Yeah, sure bro. That’s power man. ‘Cause that’s one thing I’ve been thinking about myself. Like I think when I got news that the virus has hit South Africa I was like “sheesh. I actually don’t know what to pray for.” I was like sitting with my wife and I am like “I do not know!” Do you pray “Lord make this thing stop.? But I am like “why is it here?” Like why didn’t it stop in China? You know so I am like “what is God doing? I don’t know… should I be praying that… I don’t know!” Like I just did not know. You know what I mean?

Let’s focus our eyes on the one who wears the realest crown and pray to him that his will be done in all of this.

Khuliso: I am with you.

Blaque: But I think it’s powerful what you are saying. Like either way, let’s focus our eyes on the one who wears the realest crown and pray to him that his will be done in all of this. And I think, yeah, we can pray for wisdom. That guys like you get all the wisdom and all the years of studying will kick in and a vaccine will be found. That somehow you will help just try and stop the rapid pace of this thing. Because I think that is the scary thing!

Why is Coronavirus Spreading so Fast?

Khuliso: It’s moving eh? It’s flying!

Blaque: Because you said earlier on SARS was more deadly than this thing…

Khuliso: But SARS had breaks. SARS kinda took it slow. And this thing is just moving quite quick. But again, that’s I think, earlier on we had a conversation because, yeah, we are more connected than we have been before in terms of people having access to flights to other countries. Travel to other countries. Just the amount of access points that are there globally, have just increased. So that might be another reason. But yeah we have to pray bro.

Blaque: We have to pray.

What Practical Precautions Should African Christians Take?

Khuliso: We’ve gotta pray. And as we pray, we also need to be wise as well. So what would be some practical things for us to be doing? I’m particularly thinking as well, yes for people in SA, but for other – if you can help us there – with other African countries where this hasn’t hit. ‘Cause I think another advantage we’ve had is that we saw it hit other countries overseas. And so by the time it came I think we were just a little bit more ready. But I know there’s a lot of African countries where this thing hasn’t touched ground. So how can you help them to be ready now? So I think practically what can we do in SA – because we already have it. But then for people who don’t have it – what can they be doing prior to this thing arriving?

Hand hygiene is probably one of the strongest, powerful, ways that we can prevent communicable disease.

Khuliso: OK so hand washing is very important. And shouldn’t begin now and shouldn’t end when COVID-19 leaves us. Hand hygiene is probably one of the strongest, powerful, ways that we can prevent communicable disease. Particularly diseases that are respiratory, because we cough and sneeze into our hands. And diseases that are gastrointestinal – as in things like diarrhoea and stuff – because we use our hands for sanitation.

Wash Your Hands – A Lot

So I would say we need to wash our hands as frequently as we can. And that… I don’t want to give a number. Because again we live in different kind of resource settings. Some people don’t have running water, or don’t have water available on demand. So as frequently as you can – wash your hands. If you do have the means to do it, for at least 20 seconds at a time is what’s recommended by the WHO. But again, as frequently and for as long as you can. Having hand sanitisers on you can be helpful. They must have a certain percentage of alcohol though, to be effective for a virus.

Some people don’t have running water, or don’t have water available on demand. So as frequently as you can – wash your hands.

Blaque: OK

Khuliso: The magic number is 70 by the way.

Blaque: Does it kill it?

Khuliso: It inactivates it yeah. So just the virus cannot operate at that exposure.

Blaque: OK.

Follow Cough and Sneeze Etiquette

Khuliso: So, those are things that I think we can do personally. I think communally, people that we are living around, cough and sneeze etiquette. So like we were alluding to now. We need to sneeze and cough into a flexed elbow if you don’t have a tissue on you. If you do have a tissue, sneeze or cough into it, discard it immediately. Wash your hands.

Sneeze and cough into a flexed elbow. If you have a tissue, sneeze or cough into it, discard it immediately. Wash your hands.

When & How Should I Self-Quarantine?

If you are living around a space where someone is either… and I wanna mention these two categories very strongly because if people you are around don’t fall into these I think the attention you will put into quarantining, I don’t think is warranted.  I think it’s just making life more difficult.

So if people around you, or if you – let’s say – have travelled to an endemic area, or have been in an area where people are exposed. So now in South Africa we are getting local transmission. So if you have been maybe in a mall and someone sneezed on you – that’s taken as an exposure. Or you have symptoms. I would say then if you have the ability to – we live in South Africa – if you have the ability to… I won’t say self-quarantine. Because not everyone has the means to do that effectively. But separate yourself from the people around you, as best as you can.

Separate yourself from the people around you, as best as you can

Try to eat from different dishes. Wash your dishes when you are done. Try and – if you are in the same room be at a different part of the room. If you’ve got enough rooms in the house then stay in a particular room. Stuff like that. But just make sure you separate yourself. And again the magic number is 10 days. So they say from the time of inoculation (which is when the virus gets into you) until your body has had the ability to deal with it is about 2 weeks. And if at the end of that you haven’t developed serious disease, chances are you’ll be fine. So those are I think some practical stuff.

Considerations for Countries Yet to Receive the Virus

For countries that haven’t received the virus it’s quite difficult because outbreaks have effects on different sectors at different points. So initially its a biological effect. As in someone gets infected and it’s picked up at that point then the government gets worried and gets involved and there will be a political directive. And that’s the period that we’ve just come from and are shifting out of. And that’s… the way it expresses is through things like banning entry into the country, banning imports, that kind of stuff.

Blaque: Closing schools.

Khuliso: Closing schools etc. But unfortunately that stuff we need to look to our leaders to implement before, you know, there is impact. From then on there’s social implications and economic ones. So it’s difficult to say what people can practically do. Because that will depend on what their governments do and what their public health instructions would be. What I would say though – I say this all the time – it sounds cliched but knowledge is really power. So, one of the advantages I think we had as a country – and it’s because of the access that we have to social media, to non-social media, to news – is that we could find out in bits and pieces what actually is this thing? How does it behave? Because we knew the inevitable was coming.

I don’t think the Lord gives us all the information, but I think he gives us some. And with what he gives us he wants us to do things.

Blaque: Sure.

Information is Power

Khuliso: And by the time that we received it we kind of had an idea of how to go about ourselves. And I think because… I don’t think the Lord gives us all the information, but I think he gives us some. And with what he gives us he wants us to do things. So with the information that we have as African countries that maybe haven’t engaged it that much – the virus I mean – we can use that. And prepare ourselves. Talk about it. Release the stigma. Get all the jokes out. And really start thinking practically – you know – what would one do? So that if it does happen then we can naturally move into dealing with it as is humanly possible.

Blaque: Sure. That’s dope man. Yah this was really helpful. Kinda gave me things to think about as well. And to help those around me. And I hope this was helpful for you. If you have any more questions for us please put it in our comments section or email us. And obviously if we can’t answer that automatically we will send it to the sky! The sky will give you all the answers.

The more knowledge we have the better we can equip ourselves individually as this thing happens.

Khuliso: It can give some.

Signing Off

Blaque: But man thank you so much. This was very helpful and I hope that you have something to chew on and that. And please share it! Share it with those around you. Share this episode with people – a lot of them – so that they can at least get with the program and get the knowledge as well. ‘Cause I think it is vital. The more knowledge we have the better we can equip ourselves individually as this thing happens. We don’t know how long it’s gonna last. We don’t know how long it’s gonna be here. So I think the more we chat about and it the more we engage the better we’d be equipped to deal with it.
So with that said man thank you so much again bro.

Khuliso: Thank you for having me.

Blaque: I am like staring at you but with like a handshake in my eyes.

Khuliso: I am returning that hand shake with my eyes.

Blaque: That’s dope bro. Thank you so much for watching this. Grace and peace. And pray to the Lord who wears the real crown man. That was poetic bro!

Khuliso: Amen.

Blaque: We will see you on the next episode. Thank you.

The current Coronavirus crisis is not simple. It is not straight-forward and obvious how we should behave or react. Dr Khuliso Ramashia breaks into bite-sized chunks the key facts that Christians need to know about COVID-19 in Africa. For without such knowledge how can we judge what a wise course of action is?

He urges us to think of others. Think especially those who don’t have the luxury of running water, private healthcare and large houses in which to self-isolate. We must not panic or horde selfishly. Above all, as Christians we need to remember that while Cronavirus is shaped as a crown – the true king, Jesus Christ, must still reign in our lives.

Unique Challenges of COVID-19 in Africa

We have to be sensitive to the unique challenges presented by COVID-19 in Africa.

The Existing Burden of Disease

“We need to be aware of our context. So like I mentioned there’s the Western world, or the first world, and there is where we live. And our burden of disease – particularly in South Africa – is already quite high. And we have got a number of categories that form this burden of disease.

We’ve already got a very big burden of disease as a society… Yet we can’t ignore this new thing

So diseases of lifestyle: things like high blood pressure, diabetes. We’ve got infectious disease that already exists: things like pneumonia, diarrhoea. We’ve got HIV and AIDS which causes people to be immunocompromised. And associated with that we have TB. And the forth aspect we have trauma. People are in car accidents every day, getting stabbed, etc. So we’ve already got a very big burden as a society. And I think it’s not… You see we are stuck in the middle of two situations. On the one hand we can’t ignore this new thing that falls into our burden.”

Caring For the Less Privileged in Society

“At the moment the expression of this disease has been that of a middle-to-upper class type of disease in terms of setting. Where it finds itself. People who have travelled and contacted people who have travelled. So while it still has that character I would encourage Christians who find themselves in those situations to protect people that are around them. Because they have the means.

I would encourage Christian brothers and sisters who are privileged to encourage the people who help them at home to stay at home – and still pay them.

I think this is a time when we need to see our health – our personal health – as… or measure it as the health of the collective. Not necessarily individually. So, if me and the people around me and the community that I can reach are all healthy that mean’s I am healthy. Not just personally.”

For a full transcript of this Podcast on COVID-19 in Africa click the toggle button above.

Share
Subscribe
LOAD MORE
Loading