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Resource allocation during COVID-19: A focus on vulnerable populations

C de V Castelyn, I M Viljoen, A Dhai, M S Pepper

Abstract


South Africa (SA) is a country of contrasts, with abundant resources, hard-won civil rights and a diverse population. Woven into the fabric of our society is a large divide between its poorest and its wealthiest members. In this article we highlight the vulnerabilities in our society that have been amplified by the COVID-19 crisis. Based on recent projections, it is very likely that the healthcare system will be overwhelmed. We acknowledge the recognition by government and civil society of these vulnerabilities, and note that difficult decisions will need to be made with regard to resource allocation. Our plea, however, is to ensure that human dignity and the principle of distributive justice are maintained, and that when difficult decisions are made, vulnerable people do not suffer disproportionately. Furthermore, it is of great concern that there is no national directive guiding resource allocation, prioritisation and triage decisions in both public and private hospitals. The Health Professions Council of SA should, as a matter of urgency, issue guidance on priority-setting and triage decisions in the context of COVID-19, based on distributive justice principles.


Authors' affiliations

C de V Castelyn, Centre for Ethics and Philosophy of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South AfricaInstitute for Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Department of Immunology, and SAMRC Extramural Unit for Stem Cell Research and Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

I M Viljoen, Institute for Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Department of Immunology, and SAMRC Extramural Unit for Stem Cell Research and Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

A Dhai, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

M S Pepper, Institute for Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Department of Immunology, and SAMRC Extramural Unit for Stem Cell Research and Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Cite this article

South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 2020;13(2):.

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-06-29
Date published: 2020-07-27

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