By Humairaa Mayet
Following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s request to President Miguel Dīaz-Canel Bermūdez, 217 Cuban health experts have been sent to South Africa. They have arrived to help curb the spread of Covid-19 and flatten the curve. Currently, they are quarantined in Pretoria for 14 days as they undergo a virtual orientation of the South African health system to allow for easy integration once they begin working.
Salaamedia’s Azhar Vadi spoke to Dr. Angelique Coetzee, chairperson of the South African Medical Association (SAMA).
The South African health system is now facing a dilemma, claimed Coetzee. The government made arrangements for the arrival of these Cuban medical personnel without consulting SAMA or any other medical organisations. Fraternities were informed of the 217 health experts on Saturday when they arrived a day later, leaving no room for plans and preparations.
Coetzee emphasised the need for South Africa’s health system to first look inward. In an attempt at prudence, South Africa’s health ministry should quantify its own resources; unemployed and retired doctors and health workers, before looking to other countries for assistance.
“This decision is premature,” said Coetzee, “as South Africa has not yet had a spike in Covid-19 cases.”
The language barrier and informational asymmetries will most certainly prove to be a challenge to the Cuban health experts. Coetzee understood that most of them speak Spanish and are not attuned to the incredibly high HIV and TB rates in the country.
A majority of these medical personnel will be deployed to the rural areas to assist with door-to-door visits and in clinics.
Due to the lockdown, hospitals are not inundated by coronavirus cases, nor are they overwhelmed by shootings, stabbings, and other injuries as they would be at usual times. Thus, they are waiting and bracing themselves for a full-scale Covid-19 outbreak.
Featured image via FreePik.