Limpopo Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba denies reports of no healthcare for unvaccinated people
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Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba has denied reports she announced that the province’s citizens who have not been vaccinated would not get healthcare from public facilities until they get the jab.
Last week a provincial radio station reported that Ramathuba had made the announcement during her address at the “Cataract Must Fall” week in Mankweng Hospital, near Polokwane, that she was avoiding exposing healthcare workers to unnecessary risks by treating unvaccinated patients.
However, speaking to the Pretoria News yesterday, Ramathuba denied ever making such an announcement, saying it would be illegal to deny people healthcare service and the address was quoted out of context.
She said in a telephonic interview with the publication: “It’s our responsibility to provide healthcare to every SA citizen. I was captured wrong. What we are saying is that there is a difference between an elective surgery and an emergency surgery.
“While our Covid-19 infections are still low we have taken advantage of that situation and are reducing and clearing surgical backlogs caused by the pandemic, and so when we do these surgeries they are more elective than an emergency.
“People have a choice to do these elective surgeries. When I was in Mangkweng last week I asked patients if they were vaccinated and our position is that we will not operate ’electively’ on a person who has not vaccinated before they test for the virus at their own cost, because we have now replaced the testing of the Covid-19 virus with the Covid-19 vaccination.”
Ramathuba meant that patients undergoing elective procedures would have to test for the virus before being operated on, and if tested positive would not be operated on in order to avoid health workers catching the virus because of the close working proximity of the surgeons’ and patients’ faces during surgery.
“You should see how close the mouths of the doctor’s have to be during an operation. So if that patient is positive then the chances of the surgeon catching the virus are massive. It’s very risky because of the close proximity,” she said.
In a situation where it's an emergency, Ramathuba added that they would treat that patient without questions asked, but convince them to vaccinate afterwards.
Limpopo’s positive cases have gone down drastically in recent weeks as compared to other provinces, with only 260 positive cases in the last 14 days and on 16 from Tuesday afternoon to yesterday afternoon.
Meanwhile, as today marks World Vision Day, Ramathuba will celebrate at Mankweng Hospital under the theme: “Love your eyes”.
This is part of the “Cataract Must Fall” campaign aiming to treat 250 patients in one week.
“From October 4 to 15 we have been embarking on the campaign of cataract removals which is the number one cause of vision loss in our province. At Mankweng Hospital each day we were able to do 25 cataract procedures with the aim of reaching the 250 target.
“We felt it is important to do this campaign in order to give World Vision Day a true meaning. During the World Vision Day celebration, we will invite as our guests other patients whose sight has been restored during the #Cataractmustfallweek,“ she said.