KZN health services hit badly by civil unrest
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DURBAN - NUMEROUS day-to-day operations of the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department have been impacted by road blockages as a result of continuous civil unrest, looting and violence in the province.
This was revealed by Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane when she provided an update on the impact of the ongoing unrest on Wednesday.
Simelane said there were a number of areas that were impacted by road blockages on day-to-day operations in the department. These included:
• Many staff members had been unable to go to work or go home (those on night shift) because access routes were blocked. As a result, skeleton staff were at work.
• Those working the night shift had been sleeping at facilities and continued working when their shifts began again.
• There was an increase of trauma patients at health-care facilities and an inability to perfom X-rays because staff could not work.
• There was also an inability to refer patients from clinics, community health centres and district hospitals for the next level of care. This resulted in several deaths, she said.
• Surgeons and other medical specialists had also been unable to work and perform delicate medical procedures.
• There had also been delays in collecting mortal remains as forensic pathology services (FPS) have battled to reach scenes.
The impending fuel shortage is a concern because it could mean that emergency medical services and FPS would be inoperational
“We do, however, have a contingency plan. We cannot elaborate on this, due to security reasons. Suffice it to say we will do everything possible to ensure our patients have enough food.
“We have not suffered any pharmaceutical supply shortages at this stage, and we are monitoring the situation in that regard very closely.
“We are acutely aware of how vital these supplies are to our patients, who must not, under any circumstances, default on their medication. It is on that basis we are calling on our communities to be vigilant and assist that the supply of medication is not blocked.”
Simelane said the vaccination programme continued in unaffected areas and as of Tuesday, they had at least 44 open vaccination centres.
She said their contingency plan had a number of interventions which included:
- Working closely with a number of key structures and entities.
- They were in the process of making a formal request to the provincial cabinet to have the SANDF guard facilities, escorting vehicles.
- A process of engaging with hospital boards to help them reach out to the public to protect staff and health facilities had begun.
- Urging health-care workers who cannot travel to their normal work posts, to present themselves at their local facilities in order to bolster capacity there.