Efforts to improve Gauteng residents' quality of life undone by Covid-19: survey

Sandton skyline seen from Alexandra township. The juxtaposition between the rich and the poor is especially evident in Alexandra, where some of South Africa's poorest live in the shadow of some of the country's richest.
Sandton skyline seen from Alexandra township. The juxtaposition between the rich and the poor is especially evident in Alexandra, where some of South Africa's poorest live in the shadow of some of the country's richest.
Image: Alon Skuy

Lockdown, riots, mass unemployment, load-shedding — it's fair to say South Africans have been through a rough 18 months.

The latest Quality of Life Survey has revealed how Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown have negatively affected families in Gauteng. 

From October 2020 to May 2021, Quality of Life Survey fieldworkers visited Gauteng's 529 provincial wards and interviewed 13,616 adults.

There are around 16-million people living in the province and the percentage of households living below the average poverty line has risen to 36%, from 25% in 2017/18 — the last time the Quality of Life Survey was run.

According to the survey, 48% of all Gauteng respondents said someone in their household received a social grant of some kind — up  from 42% in 2017/18.

Of those surveyed, 23% said someone in their household was receiving the R350 social relief of distress grant.

But besides the support, Gauteng residents were suffering physically and psychologically from the Covid-19 pandemic

Self-reported health, overall satisfaction with life, and mental health have all worsened relative to 2017/18.

Survey data found that 14% of Gauteng’s residents are at high risk of depression, an increase of 2%.

“Those who were economically impacted by the pandemic are far more likely to be at high risk of depression. Mental health services must be prioritised in Gauteng’s recovery, although the overburdened public healthcare system is struggling to cope with the pandemic.”

Basic healthcare needs are also going unmet, with 7% of adults in Gauteng struggling to access healthcare since the start of lockdown. Over 2% said they were turned away when requesting a Covid-19 test.

Using research, the survey showed that the overall quality of life score fell from 64 points in 2017/18 to 61 points.

“This is a return to 2013/14 levels and reverses the gradual upward trend in index scores over time.”

TimesLIVE


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