As important as health is in general, within our lifetime it has never been more important or been under a greater spotlight as it has been since the end of 2019 from the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic to date.
Wherever you turn there are notices linked to health regulations or assurances of the implementation of increased health protocols which are intended to slow the spread of COVID-19 for the protection of the greater population. Additionally, we have experienced a surge in research conducted and articles written on the impact of the pandemic on people’s livelihood, physical and mental health.
With the added conversations on vaccines and the heated debates regarding voluntary vs. mandatory vaccinations, now more than ever people have placed increased focus on their rights when it comes to health matters.
With this increased focus on health and healthy behaviours it is quite concerning that on the one hand other health matters and health conditions, especially chronic conditions have been overshadowed by the pandemic to the point of neglect.
COVID-19 has resulted in decreases of many types of health care utilization, ranging from preventive care to chronic disease management and even emergency care. Many opt for home treatment/s and over the counter medication for ailments that they would normally seek medical treatment for. There has been increased defaulting in regard to regular health check-ups, often in fear of possible increased exposure to the virus at health facilities.
It is reported that as of June 2020, 4 in 10 adults surveyed, delayed or avoided routine or emergent medical care because of the pandemic. Cancer screenings, for example, dropped during the pandemic. Decreases in screening have resulted in the diagnoses of fewer cancers and pre-cancers, and studies have estimated that delayed screening and treatment for breast and colorectal cancer could result in almost 10,000 preventable deaths.
Health authorities have been lamenting the loss of previous gains which had been achieved in the prevention of chronic diseases across the chronic disease spectrum and in other areas, including paediatric immunization, mental health and substance abuse, etc.
Some of the prevention and disease management efforts been affected by matters such as job loss, loss of medical cover, lack of access to healthy food, or loss of places and opportunities for one to be physically active.
The pandemic has also had a negative impact on health care systems through, amongst others, staff reductions, health practice closures, disrupted services and public health organizations’ deployment of personnel away from ongoing chronic disease prevention efforts.
The above has resulted in an increased responsibility on public and private health care providers to amongst others:
Added responsibilities include, the lessening of health inequities among people with or at risk for chronic diseases and helping those with chronic diseases to obtain access to and gain confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine in order to enable patients to make informed and responsible choices about their health care.
However, despite the bulk of the responsibility being on the health authorities, everyone has a personal responsibility when it relates to their health and the health of those who are in their care. These include amongst others:
The health of its members is of utmost importance to MISA, hence the organisation continues to negotiate for and make provision for preferable sick leave provisions for its members through the Sick Accident and Maternity Pay Fund (SAF) in order to ensure that MISA members do not find themselves unnecessarily out of pocket in regard to sick leave.
MISA further encourages its members to be responsible for and to continuously take care of their health by ensuring that they attend the necessary medical check-ups during the course of the year in order for them to manage and/or prevent any diseases where possible.
MISA further rewards its members for their healthy behaviours through the Healthy MISA Member Benefit and the Healthy MISA Women Benefit which operate as follows:
Healthy MISA Members*
Subject to specified criteria, MISA will pay an amount of R2 500 per member per annum to 200 eligible MISA members who from 1 January to 31 December 2021 were not off sick from work for more than 2 (two) days with/without the provision of a medical certificate. These members will also be required to provide written proof of a medical examination or participation in a wellness campaign, they will also need to have attended all medical surveillance examinations based on inherent job requirements and/or based on personal health requirements.
Healthy MISA Women*
Subject to specified criteria, MISA will pay an amount of R2 500 (per female member) per annum to 200 eligible female members who from 1 January to 31 December 2021 attended to their health by undertaking a mammogram or pap smear.
Application forms for these benefits can be accessed through the links below.
In the continued efforts to ensure our ongoing health and safety amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic, let us all ensure that we do not neglect any aspects of our health as well as the continued monitoring thereof.
*A member will only be eligible for either the Healthy MISA member benefit or the Healthy MISA Women benefit, in a specific year.