I spoke to Lester Kiewit on Cape Talk Radio about the need to ensure undocumented migrants are included in South Africa's Covid-19 vaccination roll-out.
Presentation made to STATSA Webinar, 18th March 2021.
To elaborate on the reopening of borders and how migrants must be treated, we are joined by Wits University Associate Professor and director of the African Centre for Migration and Society, Jo Vearey.
Wits University Associate Professor and director of the African Centre for Migration and Society, Jo Vearey, said non-citizens often experienced discrimination when trying to access public healthcare facilities. Vearey said another concern for this group would be documentation. “This is linked to issues around documentation and around misunderstandings between healthcare providers, particularly at the very front lines, receptionists and clerks for example. “This means an individual’s documentation can be misunderstood, demands are incorrectly made for documents, and this can also lead to further fears for someone who might have an irregular status and whether or not this could lead them into getting into trouble.” Different forms of documentation should be used for identification and not just an identity document, said Vearey. “We need to also ensure that we are not requesting frontline healthcare workers to work as immigration officials. This is something that we increasingly see globally, and it is something that there has been tension around in the South African context for a while.”
Jo Vearey, director of the African Centre for Migration and Society at the University of the Witwatersrand, said one of the key issues linked to confidentiality, anonymity and the protection of people was to ensure that regardless of someone’s legal status when they come for the vaccine, this information is not fed to the Department of Home Affairs or the South African Police Service. “I’m thinking that we may need to return to the oversight role and the legal reviews that took place when the initial test and trace processes were rolled out earlier last year, with the ways that there were guarantees of data protection and ensuring that data was only linked to the traces processes … I am thinking we will need something similar.” Vearey said the blanket extension of asylum-seeking permits would need to be clearly communicated and everybody involved with the delivery of vaccinations should be made aware of that.