On June 3, the Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of SA (HOSPERSA) reported that more than 150 healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19 at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town.
This raised more questions about government’s capacity to deliver much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) to its facilities, prompting unions to tell their members to stay away from work if there is no protective equipment.
HOSPERSA called on the Employment & Labour Department to the hospital to “avoid a brewing catastrophe which will derail the country’s fight against Covid-19.
According to the Director of Affordable Medicines at the National Department of Health, Khadija Jamaloodien the availability of medicines in the country is roughly 84%.
In June Mediclinic International, joined many companies in scrapping its dividend as it seeks to preserve cash amid uncertainty created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Similar moves have been undertaken by its closest rivals, Netcare and Life Healthcare. This is the first time in Mediclinic’s 35-year history that it has withheld a pay-out., reported Business Day (3 June 2020). According to CEO, Ronnie van der Merwe, the company’s underlying performance, stripping out Covid-19, was broadly in line with expectations.
On June 2, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced that the country has 35 812 confirmed COVID-19 cases. The Western Cape remains the epicentre with 23 583 cases. The Eastern Cape has 4 324 cases, Gauteng has 4 276 and KwaZulu-Natal has 2 637 cases.
Medical aid members who are seeking any type of contribution relief should get in touch with their financial advisor or broker to ascertain the relief options available to them and the impact on benefits,” advised Susan Weedman, Alexander Forbes Health senior consulting manager. – BizCommunity (2 June 2020)
“The government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is a building block towards SA’s healthcare future under the National Health Insurance programme,” according to Pres Cyril Ramaphosa. - News24 (1 June 2020).
On May 27, Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize admitted that SA was suffering from a backlog of tests. According to his statement, as of May 27, 634 996 tests had been conducted across the country. But of those, “a total of 29 948 tests reflects a backlog ofunallocated tests”.
The statement said this challenge is caused by the limited availability of test kits globally (that is, inadequate supply of extraction kits and high throughputs of PCRkits). It must be acknowledged that this capacity issue is a global challenge.
Tension between private sector doctors and the government is coming to a head over a dispute about payment and legal immunity when it comes to treating COVID-19, reported Daily Maverick (28 May 2020).
“In a letter to members, the South African Private Practitioners’ Forum (SAPPF) says its repeated attempts to negotiate with the National Department of Health in “offering our support in combatingthis pandemic” have not met with a satisfactory response. At the heart of the issue isthe treatment of “state-responsibility patients” for Covid-19 in private medical facilities - and what the doctors will be paid.”
A South African HIV researcher, Quarraisha Abdool Karim,has been awarded the Christophe Merieux Prize, one of France’s top science prizes (close to R9.6-m), for her research.
Karim found that a topical gel of the HIV antiretroviral drug tenofovir, could stop many women being infected with HIV during sex. Abdool Karim, 60, has previously won SA’s highest honour, the Order of Mapungubwe, as well as a L'Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science award. Her husband,
fellow epidemiologist Salim Abdool Karim, is the SA government’s main scientific advisor for COVID-19.
The impression that the Western Cape is experiencing a more severe epidemic than the rest of the country is skewed by the fact that it does proportionately more testing and tests more aggressively in known hotspots, according to the provincial government. (As of last week, it had conducted 1 200 tests per 100 000 people, against Gauteng’s 837 per 100 000.) – Financial Mail (28 May 2020).
Black-owned hospital group, RH Bophelo, will be making a secondary listing on the Rwanda Stock Exchange on 1 June. The group, which owns nine hospitals and manages six on behalf of smaller standalone hospitals, targets lower and middle-income earners who ordinarily cannot afford medical aid, but also do not want to rely on state hospitals.