• Eastern Cape Rising Sun

20 Cuban doctors arrive in EC

Updated: May 21

By Khuthala Nandipha

20 Cuban doctors have arrived in the Eastern Cape to assist Covid 19 hotspots such as the Buffalo City and Nelson Mandela Metros where infection numbers are escalating.

Buffalo City has 452 cases and six people have died. The province is at 1 936 with 124 new cases on Sunday (17 May), 35 deaths and 839 recoveries.

The doctors specialise in epidemiology, hygiene and information management. They will also be deployed in Port St Johns, Lusikisiki and Mount Fletcher where social distancing has been hard to achieve during to insistence on attending funerals.

The Eastern Cape has been accused of having the lowest testing numbers, despite contributing over 12% of SA's cases.

Premier Lubabalo Mabuyane insists that they took a conscious decision to test as many people as possible. "Our approach is containing the virus, investing in sustainable solutions, protecting the vulnerable and the poor, and rejuvenating the provincial economy and securing the future," he said.

Ahead of the Cuban doctor'a arrival, R50 million has been set aside for the renovation of hospitals, new wards, turning stadiums into field hospitals, and isolation facilities.

Volkswagen South Africa has turned their unused plant in Port Elizabeth into a 4 000-bed field hospital. 

Mabuyane assured that the province has sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) despite the ongoing uprisings by healthcare workers complaining about lack of PPEs.

Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba announced that the doctors will be in orientation for a week as they join long-serving local healthcare workers. Gomba added that Cubans are expected to impart knowledge and skills to our health workers to assist in dealing with other viruses in future. "We are thrilled to be able to assist using our experience. There is no area in the province we are not going to attend to, especially the rural areas," said Dr Nccalla Odalys of the Cuban delegation. The SA-Cuban Medical Collaboration Programme formed in 1996, has seen over 800 South Africans receiving the best medical training in Cuba, with most coming from the EC. Cuba is said to have the best medical doctors and the best accessible primary healthcare in the world. Cuba is sitting at 1862 coronavirus cases, and 79 deaths with 1460 recoveries. The doctors stay will cost the country R444 million, a cost that has been criticised for being too high. "We are not placing monetary value on human life. We will preserve human life no matter what it will cost us," said Mabuyane. "Victory is certain," he added. 


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