IMAGE e1585059100238 300x226WSU Head of Department: Public Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor Francis Hyera, has dispelled myths around the racial profiling of the Covid-19 pandemic rumoured to be a Eurocentric disease.

According to Hyera who was recently appointed Eastern Cape’s Covid-19 Public Health Medicine Consultant and Advisor, Africans have every reason to join the panic.

“Many people allude to Covid-19 as a disease of white people just as they had assumed so back in the ninety’s when African people thought HIV/AIDS was a European disease only to find themselves much infected and dying of HIV,” said Hyera.

With 42 years’ experience in the medical fraternity, Hyera advises on the Emergency and Disaster Management Plan which was shared with O.R Tambo district.

Hyera said people panic because there isn’t enough community awareness on the disease causation and prevention. He said there’s a lack of research and clear communication from our local environments except from the president.

“The biggest challenge is that we are less prepared for this outbreak in terms of awareness creation to our communities and they are not aware of a proper referral system once they have signs and symptoms,” he said.

In addition to government interventions, Hyera pleaded with businesses and organisations to play their role to mitigate the reach of the pandemic by doing the following:

  • Influence their employees on behaviour change,
  • Awareness creation on the disease and encourage them to disseminate Corona messages to their families and communities,
  • Financial support for trainers of disease prevention,
  • Health Promotion focusing on large gatherings, transport industry business (taxi ranks), funeral industry, cultural and religious events etc.

The professor added that students could also play a role by contributing to the body of research work done on the impact of Covid-19 by generating action-based research on this outbreak in-terms lessons learnt and evidence based transition onwards.

“It can be on socio-economic, medical, behavioural and social cultural factors towards this pandemic,” he said.

Hyera has been in the medical fraternity since February 1978 to-date, serving in different capacities as a clinical practitioner, in emergency preparedness and response (EPR), health strategic planning, medical monitoring and evaluation, project management locally, internationally and at the United Nations level.