Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA) 
Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA) 

R239m - That's how much taxpayers will cough up for Cuban doctors

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Jun 9, 2020

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Cape Town - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has revealed taxpayers will pay R239 million in salaries to the 187 members of the Cuban medical brigade in the country to assist in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The amount excludes the more than R6.1m budgeted in accommodation in at least six provinces.

Mkhize revealed this in written replies to questions posed by DA MP Siviwe Gwarube who wanted to know about the number of the Cubans, their fields of specialisation, proficiency in English and costs of their deployment.

"To date, the Republic of Cuba has availed 187 medical specialists, who will be assisting South Africa in the response to Covid-19," he said in his written response. 

"The 187 medical specialists in the areas that the country is unable to produce enough.

"These are qualified in biostatisticians, epidemiologists, family physicians and health technologists," Mkhize added.

The breakdown of the medical specialists is:

  • 116 family physicians who will pocket a combined R172 767 798;
  • 32 health technologists who will be paid a total of R25 941 166 in salaries;
  • 18 epidemiology technologists who will receive salaries totalling R14 715 735;
  • 13 biostatisticians who will be paid salaries totalling R19 566 449;
  • Five biomedical engineers whose salaries total R2 773 887;
  • Two public health specialists set to receive salaries totalling R2 231 276; and
  • One nurse to be paid R528 852

Mkhize said the estimated R239 181 933 salary cost was informed by actual appointment levels of the Cuban health brigade as determined by their registration category, which took into consideration years of experience.

"All the family physicians and biostatisticians are appointed at Grade 2 of medical officer level and epidemiology technologists/ health technology and public health specialists are at deputy director level while biomedical engineers are at ASD (assistant director) level."

The minister revealed that the state paid R734 100 in the registration costs of the specialists at the Health Professional Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

Mkhize said the full amount would be deducted from the first salary of each individual health professional.

"This means there is no actual cost to be incurred by the South African government, however, it is a convenient process arranged to ensure that all of the professionals are registered accordingly. "

Mkhize's replies showed that R6 117 664 has been budgeted for the brigade's accommodation in six provinces with KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Mpumalanga still to provide the information. 

"Most provinces have entered into agreements with service providers to accommodate the medical personnel for 12 months.

"Other provinces are only accommodating the brigade for May and June and then move them to hotspots districts/communities. Therefore, the accommodation in these areas is still not confirmed, as negotiations are still underway," Mkhize said.

Political Bureau

* 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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