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We cannot ignore other diseases like TB and HIV - Health Minister

UPDATE: Health Minister Zweli Mkhize briefed media

UPDATE: Health Minister Zweli Mkhize briefed media

Published Jun 12, 2020


Johannesburg - Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic the healthcare system should not lag behind in addressing other diseases such as TB and HIV.

Mkhize said as the healthcare system was being given a boost, and the investments being made, should be long-lasting and beneficial for the future.

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He was speaking during a visit to the Eastern Cape on Friday. The province has seen a sharp rise in confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths. 

He oversaw the launch of mobile clinics, a scooter project initiative and to handover two-way radio systems. These programmes were expected to assist the province in its battle against the coronavirus.

Mkhize said it was important that other diseases should not be neglected during this time. He referred specifically to TB and HIV which kills more people every year. 

He said it was understandable that the focus was now on Covid-19 because the virus is new.

“Whilst we are facing a challenge of Covid-19, our focus should be on how to strengthen health services in general. As we respond to Covid-19, whatever investments we make must last us a long time,” he said.

“Whilst we are concerned about Covid-19, which is a serious problem… it’s also important to say that there are a lot of other diseases causing mortality out there that we can’t ignore. We can never create an impression that it’s fine to be safe from Covid-19 but you may still succumb to other treatable ailments like diabetes," the minister said.

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Mkhize said that the country had not reached its Covid-19 peak and it was important for citizens to remain vigilant and follow safety protocols.

He defended the decision to lift the hard lockdown saying the government had a tough balancing act. The minister said it was not contradictory for the government to ease the lockdown while cases were rising.

On the issue of re-opening schools, he said it would have irresponsible to not take actions and test the system of re-opening. He said these decisions were part of the strategy of returning to normal.

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The country reached its one million mark in testing on Thursday, June 11. 

Mkhzie said now the strategy was focused on dealing with the testing backlog. He said the focus was being channelled to the Western Cape, the country's epicentre, with supplying test kits to ensure that the backlog was dealt with. 

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