KZN Health head of department Sandile Tshabalala with MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu.
KZN Health head of department Sandile Tshabalala with MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu.

KZN invested in health facilities’ upgrades

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Jan 15, 2021

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Cape Town - KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu on Thursday said her department has invested in health facilities when they planned to undertake upgrade work during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Each and every district has one facility that has been upgraded," Simelane-Zulu said when briefing the health portfolio committee.

She made the statement when she was responding to EFF MP Naledi Chirwa, who asked about work done to prepare infrastructure in the public facilities in anticipation of the second wave.

Simelane-Zulu listed the facilities that were upgraded, saying some would be recommissioned as district or regional hospitals, including the Clairwood Hospital in eThekwini and Richmond Hospital.

She also dismissed suggestions made by Chirwa that HIV-positive patients were not receiving their medication during the pandemic period.

Simelane-Zulu said the province had put in place measures during the first wave of the pandemic to ensure availability of medication to the patients.

She also said they had made sure everyone accessed their treatment and those on chronic medication were given three-month supplies.

"We do have a strategy and we have not stopped the programme that speaks to HIV-Aids," Simelane-Zulu said.

Also briefing the committee, head of department, Sandile Tshabalala said the trend during the resurgence was that the private sector was equally if not more inundated with patients than it was during the first wave when the public sector was overwhelmed.

Tshabalala said the situation has prompted both sectors in the province to reach an agreement to share the availability of beds as there was an increased demand and transfer of patients to public hospitals by their private counterparts.

He also said there was also the challenge of the failure by GPs to follow referral pathways and private specialists communicating outside their hospital groups.

The private hospitals have been allowed to repurpose some of their beds so that they could admit more Covid-19 patients.

"This was informed by hearing that there are situations where people get to different hospitals and don't get beds simply because they don't have private hospitals with Covid beds that have been repurposed."

He added that despite efforts in mounting Covid response, there were challenges with implementation of the responses.

"The operational challenge that we are seeing is critical and high-care beds due to shortage of specialists and doctors," he said adding that there was inadequate supply of oxygen due to limited capacity for bulk storage, among other things.

There was a prolonged turnaround for results despite the use of antigen rapid tests in hospitals as well as increased morbidity and mortality due to delay in seeking medical care by Covid-19 positive patients.

Tshabalala said the province has accumulated 5 732 deaths.

"A total 150 of these deaths occurred with people being at home," he said.

Tshabalala noted that eThekwini Metro recorded the highest number of deaths.

"Within the province, eThekwini Metro Municipality continues to contribute 46% 926 222) of the reported deaths," he said.

Meanwhile, the Limpopo Health Department is bracing itself for the resurgence of the virus to be five times higher than the first wave.

Acting deputy director-general Abrey Lekoloana said the province was in a resurgence.

"We are definitely in a resurgence. The area of concern is the health workers getting infected," Lekoloana said.

The province has 40 364 cumulative cases, 10 137 active cases and 702 deaths.

Lekoloana told the MPs that their projections were that their cases would go up at a higher rate than the first wave.

"We may peak in three weeks. We will still have a high number of cases and hospitalisation until the end of February," he said.

Lekoloana also said there needed to be additional resources for the department to cope.

"The surge is to be five times higher. This means additional resources are required amid restricted financial resources."

He also said the introduction of the much-awaited vaccine would require extra resources.

Political Bureau

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