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Health-care sector appeals for urgent invention as staff bear the brunt of riots

Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jul 14, 2021

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DURBAN - THE National Hospital Network is appealing to the government to address the looting and riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng that are have a devastating impact on the medical community.

The NHN, which represents 241 private hospitals nationally, said hospitals were facing dire staff shortages and some health-care workers had to sleep at the hospitals.

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"Some of our doctors have reported that they too are unable to reach hospitals. Food supplies are running out at some of our hospitals, and pharmaceutical and oxygen supplies are compromised as these stocks are supplied via Durban," said NHN chief executive Neil Nair.

The NHN is calling on the government to provide on-site security to private and public hospitals, provide SAPS or SANDF escorts for medical supplies, food, clean linen and other essentials.

Nair said the NHN also wanted hospital communications and IT systems to be secured. The Melomed Richards Bay Hospital lost communication capabilities after fibre lines were destroyed.

The KZN Department of Health said many hospitals, community health centres and clinics across KwaZulu-Natal had been operating on skeletal staff. Many nurses, doctors, allied health workers and support staff were unable to report for work due to the blockades, as well as lack of public transport.

"Patients who were due to undergo elective surgery and those with minor ailments have been advised not to come to hospitals, until the situation returns to normal.

“In some instances, vehicles were barred from delivering much-needed oxygen that was intended for use by patients battling Covid and other ailments," said Ntokozo Maphisa, the spokesperson for the KZN Department of Health.

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He said an ambulance was burnt in Howick while another was stoned in Marriannhill.

"There have also been reports of delays with the collection of mortal remains, as Forensic Pathology Services battle to reach scenes where people have passed away. They are also unable to collect bodies from clinics that do not have mortuaries.

“The unrest has also affected the functioning of the Department’s key 24-hour Provincial Health Operations Centre, which serves as a link between it and the public," Maphisa said.

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The public can contact the department at 031 480 3718.

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