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4th April 2020

Why One-size-fits-all Measures against COVID-19 Could be Lethal in Africa’s Social Context

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It’s not even clear that the social distancing measures will curb the spread of disease here. We know from award winning work on HIV transmission by South African epidemiologists that local social context can neuter a health intervention that is effective elsewhere. So it may be with social distancing.

In a South African township, living conditions are extremely crowded. Socialising is unavoidable. You might as well tell people to emigrate to Mars. In the bubonic plague, the aristocracy left London for the countryside; the poor of London could not isolate themselves, and so they died. This may be our situation.

It is similarly fantastical to expect people who cannot afford food – as will soon be the case for many more – to practice personal hygiene. You can’t eat soap. If you are starving, you won’t buy it.

Source: The Conversation

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