A brigade of health professionals, who volunteered to travel to South Africa to assist local authorities with an upsurge of coronavirus cases, attend a farewell ceremony in Havana, Cuba. Picture: Ramon Espinosa/AP
A brigade of health professionals, who volunteered to travel to South Africa to assist local authorities with an upsurge of coronavirus cases, attend a farewell ceremony in Havana, Cuba. Picture: Ramon Espinosa/AP

Cuban medics to be deployed across SA according to skills

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Apr 29, 2020

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Johannesburg - Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has defended the government's decision to request help from Cuba to deal with the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

Mkhize said the 217 healthcare workers, who landed at the Waterkloof base on Monday morning, had a variety of skills that would be of assistance to the country. 

He said Cuba had a strong background in community health medicine provision and the government hoped to learn and utilise these skills against Covid-19.

The arrival of the medical corps has been received with mixed reactions as some questioned why local medical interns were not used to fill gaps in the health system. Mkhize poured cold water over the claims saying that the Cuban doctors were not going to take anyone's job.

"Interns have been placed appropriately. We then went on to address the plight of doctors that had finished community service and were worried that they would not be employed. We received 217 doctors of various training and professions from Cuba. This means to us that they are coming to augment South Africa's human resources,"  Mkhize said on Tuesday night during a meeting with health MECs. 

"They are coming at our request. They have strength in community medicine. We welcome these Cuban doctors and we want to assure everyone that they will not take anyone’s post and they will be here to assist us."

The Cuban doctors will be distributed across the country based on their skills and the needs of each province. There are 105 family physicians, 30 health technology experts, 18 epidemiology experts, 21 biostatistics, 11 public health specialists and two biotechnologists.

The distribution of the doctors will be skills-based and Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal will be receiving the largest amount of doctors. The three provinces currently have the highest Covid-19 infections. 

IOL

* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak, visit IOL's special #Coronavirus page.

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit sacoronavirus.co.za 

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