The Bulungula Incubator is located in one of the poorest and most remote regions in South Africa with no access to running water, electricity, healthcare, or adequate road infrastructure.
Furthermore, we have a high concentration of persons with chronic illnesses and compromised immune systems, that make them particularly vulnerable to the Coronavirus.
Following the announcements and directives issued by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday, 15 March, the Bulungula Incubator implemented the following immediate strategies:
- Engagement with key stakeholders: management and staff, traditional leadership, community members, funders, and partners
- Education of management on the COVID-19 Coronavirus, its effects and the appropriate response, as received from official government sources
- Immediate creation and dissemination of an information circular for management to use in the education of staff and subordinates
- Training of our Home Based Care Team on how to educate households on the virus and assist in the set-up of handwashing stations and disinfectant cleaning regimes using cost-effective and available materials. A register of this process has been kept to ensure that all households are reached.
- Set-up of hand washing stations and hand sanitizing stations at all BI sites
- The use of the Bulungula Radio to disseminate information to community members as widely as possible.
- Consultations with experts: the Clinical Head of our local government hospital, an Infectious Disease Specialist with working experience of the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone and rural areas in South Africa, and legal counsel.
The next level implementation of the BI strategy, following the engagements and consultation above, consists of three spokes: :
- Set-up Coronavirus Task Team and community hotline at the BI Office
- Development of a long term information campaign for daily information dissemination through the Bulungula Radio
- Set-up and implement of eKhaya Lokuzikusela (safe home venues) to protect the elderly and most vulnerable
Due to our remote location, there has not yet been exposure to the virus. This will change. In particular, migrant workers will return home soon and once the disease spreads across the country, infections are likely to reach even our areas. The nature of life and home infrastructure make it hard to isolate effectively away from other family members and community members, children in particular. Avoiding exposure in a rural area like ours is best done through Safe Home Venues. In this way, we will help flatten the curve of the spread of the disease and prevent peak health-care demand (see Imperial College London research supporting this disease mitigation strategy: “Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand” Imperial College London, 16 March 2020, Ferguson, N.M et.al.)
The Bulungula Lodge (the 100% community-owned Lodge) will be used as the central Safe Home Venue. Funds used to run the venues will also serve to save community jobs while providing life-saving facilities during the crisis.
Current information from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the Centre for Disease control (CDC) is that those most at risk are older persons and persons with heart disease, lung disease and diabetes. We are therefore prioritizing persons older than 65, and persons older than 60 who have pre-existing conditions (TB, HIV, Diabetes and Heart conditions) to be offered a place at the Safe Home Venues.
These Safe Home Venues follow careful standard operating procedures that no-one will be allowed to move in or out, including staff. Groceries and other essentials will be carefully cleaned before entering.
We will partner with other accommodation venues and homesteads in villages along the Wild Coast to roll out this model.
To support our response and efforts, please donate below! For a more detailed budget plan, please email Rejane Woodroofe at rejane@Bulungula.org .