SA reflects on Cuban doctors’ deployment

Minister of Health, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, has reflected on the important role played by the Cuban Brigade in assisting South Africa’s efforts to combat the Coronavirus.

Joined by the Cuban Ambassador Rodolfo Benítez Verson during a virtual meeting, the two talked about the work of the Cuban doctors, who arrived in South Africa in April, as the country grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Eastern Cape was allocated 12 medical officers, which included four biomedical engineers, two epidemiologists, and two biostatisticians.

“The medical officers have been resourceful in Primary Health Care as this is their specialty. Their data analytics and information management have been key in assessing the impact of intervention strategies.

“The biomedical engineers have been critical in the design, installation, adjusting, repairing, and provision of technical support for biomedical equipment,” the Minister said on Friday.

In the Gauteng province, members of the Cuban Medical Brigade were distributed throughout all five districts while some have been doing work with the central office.

“They are mainly working in quarantine and isolation sights, ward-based contact tracing, epidemiological surveillance, and in hospitals where there has been noticeable nosocomial spread,” the Minister said.

In the Northern Cape, the brigade is doing outreach services in critical areas of need.

“They are clinical leaders to the management teams and assist in the screening, testing, and quarantining of patients. The Northern Cape Department of Health has attested to the invaluable contribution of the Covid-19 personnel from the Brigade,” the Minister said.

Eight medical officers have been deployed to various facilities in Limpopo’s five districts to boost case management.

“Three clinical engineering technologists, one hygienist, and one biostatistician are stationed in Capricorn District. The deployments were based on areas where it was identified there was a shortage of human resources.”

Their presence, said the Minister, has helped to reduce the workload.

“Their presence has reduced workload and pressure on staff members, provided much-needed relief, improved processing of data, and contributed to improved data reporting that feeds into the daily situational report on COVID-19 in the province,” the Minister said.

Health technologists also assisted with the assessment of non-functional equipment.

The 28 strong teams deployed to the Western Cape, consisted of health professionals with experience in planning, execution, and the management of public health.

“They were fully integrated into the clinical teams working alongside the South African health professionals in order to strengthen the province’s response to COVID-19,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile, 17 members of the brigade were deployed to the Free State. Their allocation addressed issues of staff shortage and this led to an improvement in data collation in the province.

“Whilst this is not an exhaustive account of the activities of the members of the brigade, the reports reassure us that we have invested well in this initiative with trusted allies during a critical phase of the national COVID-19 pandemic,” the Minister said.

Ambassador Verson said South Africa has provided an excellent working environment for the doctors.

“Since their arrival in April, they have been treating nearly 30 000 patients and they have saved 166 lives. Many of our doctors are working in quarantine. Our biomedical engineers have achieved impressive results,” he said.

The results of 31 Cuban biomedical engineers include 787 equipment

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