The poor will suffer most from coronavirus pandemic, says Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa in a speech for the World Health Assembly said that COVID-19 had devastated the livelihoods of millions of people, and it would continue to be with us for some time.

A screengrab of President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the virtual 73rd Session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) on 18 May 2020.

MASERU - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday said that the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the dangerous and growing inequality that exists both between countries and internally.

Ramaphosa’s address was supposed to be delivered to the World Health Assembly on Monday, but technical problems temporarily halted his address, which was later replayed.

But in a written text he said that healthcare systems were struggling to cope.

"Although the coronavirus pandemic has affected both developed and developing economies, it is the poor who will suffer most. The pandemic has highlighted the dangerous and growing inequality that exists both between countries and within them," Ramaphosa said.

Some have been weakened by underfunding and neglect, while others were under pressure because they were designed to serve the select few, the president said.

Ramaphosa said that COVID-19 had devastated the livelihoods of millions of people and that it would continue to be with us for some time.

WATCH: The poor who will suffer most during COVID-19 pandemic - Ramaphosa

“And we will have to change the way we behave, work and live,” he said.

The president said that global recovery depended on our ability to accept these realities, to prepare for them, and to adapt accordingly.

"The social distancing, hygiene, and other protocols recommended by the World Health Organisation must become part of our everyday lives," he said.

Ramaphosa said while the pandemic had affected both developed and developing economies, it is the poor who will suffer most.

And South Africa affirmed its full support for the World Health Organisation (WHO), which had been key in guiding the international response to the pandemic.

"The WHO has been instrumental in providing guidance and support to African governments with early detection of the pandemic, training health workers and strengthening surveillance in communities," Ramaphosa said.

‘AFRICA IS EXTREMELY VULNERABLE’

Meanwhile, Ramaphosa also made a special plea for support for Africa at the World Health Assembly.

In his speech, he said that the continent was vulnerable and assistance to it needed to include debt relief and more special allocations with international financial institutions.

"Africa is extremely vulnerable to the ravages of this virus and needs every possible support and assistance, including much-needed resources, to bolster its response and offset a potentially devastating social and economic fallout.

"The African Union has taken very deliberate steps to respond to the scourge.

"We have developed a comprehensive COVID-19 strategy, established an African Union COVID-19 Response Fund and embarked on a fundraising drive to strengthen the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

"To date, we have raised a combined amount of US$ 61 million for the Response Fund and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention," Ramaphosa said.

But, he said, that called for all developing countries to be assisted in their efforts to combat the pandemic and to rebuild their economies had not been heeded.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.