Cuban medics head for Limpopo Covid-19 mining hotspot

Limpopo health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba has welcomed a team of 13 Cuban medical staff members, which include eight family physicians, and believes they will be able to transfer skills to local professionals./ALON SKUY
Limpopo health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba has welcomed a team of 13 Cuban medical staff members, which include eight family physicians, and believes they will be able to transfer skills to local professionals./ALON SKUY

Cuban doctors will be dispatched to a rural mining area in Limpopo after over 20 miners tested positive for Covid-19.

MEC for health Dr Phophi Ramathuba welcomed 13 Cuban healthcare workers yesterday at St-Maria in Polokwane and said the team would be going to the communities around the Burgersfort area which has been identified as a hotspot for the coronavirus in the province.

"The team will be helping in those mining communities because they are more knowledgeable in preventative measures. We have now moved to targeting hotspots where the outbreak is spreading."

Ramathuba said the deployment of the Cubans in Limpopo consisted of eight family physicians, one epidemiologist, one biostatistician and three health technologists.

"These are medical experts who have arrived in our country to offer support in the fight against the spread of Covid-19.

"Being a rural province, we have been struggling primarily with epidemiologist and biostatistician, which are key in guiding us on how best to approach this pandemic."

Leandro Gonzales Moreno, the representative of the Cuban healthcare workers, said they were in the country to support SA in the fight against the virus.

"We are here to do what Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro did when they fought apartheid together," he said.

Ramathuba said: "Health technology has been another area of deficiency where hi-tech equipments may be procured but lack the necessary expertise to monitor and maintain them.

"These experts came at the right time and we believe they will be able to transfer skills to our professionals and also inspire young people to enrol in these fields.

"We believe that their presence will significantly boost our public health sector personnel capacity in the fight against this pandemic."

Ramathuba's spokesperson Thilivhali Muavha said: "The MEC gave the team a background of the historical landscape of the South African health system which was discriminating against the blacks prior [to] 1994.

"She warned them not to be swallowed by the South African system but rather they stick to the Cuban way which is preventative in nature.

"The MEC added that 92% of the population depends on government health system, while 8% are using the private sector."

Muavha said Ramathuba advised health professionals not to be caught up in politics and said politicians must follow clinicians.

Ramathuba also said healthcare professionals were not immune to the virus, advising them to wear PPEs to protect themselves.

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