Cape Town – More than 1 000 health volunteers have come forward to help stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Western Cape.
This comes as the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) welcomed the arrival of 217 Cuban health experts to the country.
However, Denosa warned that the government should not overlook South African nurses who are without jobs and could also contribute.
Western Cape Health Department spokesperson Mark van der Heever said the 1 175 volunteers in the province were a combination of retired and unemployed doctors, nurses, pharmacists and pharmacist assistants as well as emergency-care practitioners.
Van der Heever thanked those brave heroes “who will join our own health workers in combating the Covid-19. During these unprecedented times, while physically apart, we stand united as we need to stop the spread and flatten the curve of the disease. By joining the fight, the volunteers will be helping to save lives.”
He said the Health Department was also expected to continue rendering health-care services to non-Covid-19 patients and require an all-hands-on-deck approach to ensure that there was enough capacity in the province to ensure continuous quality health care.
“As we enter the next phase of intensifying our reach into communities we continue to call on all available health professionals to take up this opportunity to make a meaningful contribution and to assist in our response to this pandemic,” Van der Heever said.
He said even if people did not wish to serve on the front line there were opportunities to contribute to the effort, enabling front line staff to continue their efforts.
Denosa spokesperson Sibongiseni Delihlazo said their gripe with the government was that many health workers (nurses and doctors) locally have not been offered jobs on completion of their community service.
Delihlazo said they would now see what the Cuban doctors would be paid in the next 12 months. “What will they think when they’ve been told there was no money to employ them?”
“In the few Covid-19 posts opened up, applications from health workers have been in the region of 100 000; that says a lot about the many health workers who are still unemployed after they completed their community service,” Delihlazo said.
Portfolio committee on health chairperson Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo said: “The arrival of the Cuban doctors and public health specialists in South Africa will boost the capacity of the public sector personnel in the fight against Covid-19.”
By Sisonke Mlamla