Well done to Bay businesses for stepping in to help protect health workers

Thomas Schaefer Chairman and Managing Director VWSA with Premier Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane launch the conversion of an old component plant into a 4000-bed temporal field hospital for covid 19 patients in Port Elizabeth.
Thomas Schaefer Chairman and Managing Director VWSA with Premier Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane launch the conversion of an old component plant into a 4000-bed temporal field hospital for covid 19 patients in Port Elizabeth.
Image: fredlin adriaan

The man in charge of the Eastern Cape health department, Thobile Mbengashe, detailed a centralised procurement and logistics system which he said would ensure public health facilities had an adequate supply of person protective equipment (PPE).

Since the province registered its first case of Covid-19, a lack of PPE in hospitals — particularly those in the rural parts of the province — has been the single biggest complaint among health workers.

Some felt they were being forced to risk their health and safety in treating patients without being given the necessary equipment to protect themselves.

Their cries are absolutely valid.

But Mbengashe says the recent protests by health workers were more about fear of contracting the virus than the shortage of PPE.

“We’ve got less than 160 patients in hospitals,” he said.

“This is important because it shows that the anxiety over non-availability of PPE is more of an expression of fear, and we need to ensure our teams are trained and able to respond.

“What we found was that there was a situation of fear around Covid-19 and at times people expressed this fear by saying there was a lack of PPE.”

Yes, he raises an important point, but it comes across as dismissive of the very real fears that staff have.

He must realise that this is an anxious time, and there is a lot of uncertainty and fear, and a flippant approach towards genuine concerns is not the best approach.

Granted, the pandemic was an unforeseen challenge, and there was a shortage of some PPE globally, but the government must ensure its staff are equipped with the tools to carry out their jobs.

Thankfully, organised business in Nelson Mandela Bay stepped in to help, pumping in R100m to help fight Covid-19.

This is in the form of a VWSA field hospital, protective gear for regional tertiary hospitals, clinics and test centres.

Big business in the Bay must be applauded for stepping in to help the province.

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