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702 Discussion: Accelerating Herd Immunity with Private Sector Support

Published 2021-09-01 09:30:44


On 16 August 2021, a panel discussion lead by 702 talk show host Aubrey Masango unpacked the factors affecting COVID-19 vaccine acceptance within South African communities. The discussion was centred around the South African government’s objective to reach herd immunity and how private sector engagement could support the mass scale-up of the vaccination programme.

Aubrey Masango was joined by Bongi Kunene, CEO of the Banking Association of South Africa; Gerhard Ferreira, CEO at LTE Medical Solutions; and Charine Glen-Spyron, Executive Director at Uni-Health and Clinical Psychologist.

The first topic focused on how the private sector could help change the narrative surrounding vaccine hesitancy. Currently, the primary driving force behind vaccination hesitancy is social media and the plethora of misinformation that influences public perceptions and mental health. Charine Glen-Spyron, highlighted how vaccine hesitancy consists of a culmination of factors that also have a ripple effect on mental health: “People are hesitant because they don’t want to be forced to do something or feel that they have to”.

Charine made the case that stringent lockdown protocols during the arrival of the vaccination programme made people feel that their constitutional rights were being infringed. She also stated that the presence of fake news, the trauma and grief of losing loved ones and jobs, escalating rates of depression, suicide, substance abuse, and gender-based violence (GBV) during COVID-19 are contributing factors to the growing anxiety of citizens.

In partnership with Qode, UniHealth is currently involved in workplace mental health programmes that focus on screening and testing employees for underlying chronic illnesses and mental health conditions. UniHealth is also engaged with medical aid schemes to provide counselling sessions to citizens who get tested for COVID-19 using Qode’s patient management software. As such, Glen-Spyron suggested that the private sector could introduce a social therapy component in the treatment process that focuses on pre- and post-counselling for testing and vaccinations. 

The pandemic has also prominently demonstrated  the importance of data. Gerhard Ferreira was posed with questions surrounding the use of big data technology in flattening the curve and how the private sector could use data to help optimise vaccination processes.

“As the private sector, we need to make sure that our efforts align with the government to ensure that service delivery is as effective as possible” Ferreira said. This remark was a response to Masango’s statement that touched on the public opinion that the private sector isn’t doing enough to support the government. “At this current stage, our platforms are deployed at hundreds of sites across South Africa to assist health workers in streamlining their screening, testing, and vaccination workflows” said Ferreira.

The Lynx-HCF platform is a comprehensive digital software solution designed to optimise data management and reporting of COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. Developed by Qode, The Lynx-HCF COVID-19 CarePlan is built on the Lynx-HCF model, a cloud-based software that supports the data collection, reporting, and patient data management of various health programmes in Southern Africa, spanning from HIV to Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC). Currently, Lynx-HCF is integrated with the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) in South Africa.

Because Ferreira and his company have been supporting COVID-19 responses since the pandemic began, he identified the need for a solution to assist the government with the booking process. Currently, vaccination sites deal with long queues, walk-ins who don’t book due to their inability to access or use the internet, and paper-based data collection methods. Ferreira echoed that by providing an onboarding model that utilises QR code scanning, mobilised health workers can improve patient care by reducing long wait times, paper-based methods, and the occurrence of human errors such as duplicated paperwork.

The discussion is part of a series that will tackle the role of the private sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the complete panel discussion, follow this link:

Presenter, Aubrey Masango will be joined by our partners and members of our group of companies to dissect several components that pertain to data collection, mental health, workplace safety, and factors that affect vaccination uptake. To get more detail about the next discussion, please get in touch with us at +27 12 111 7000.

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Qode Health Solutions is a private company registered in South Africa with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CPC). Qode's majority share holders is vested in Non-profit organisations and fall part of one of 4 group technology-based companies located in Gauteng.