'Fatigue among our staff is a real issue': Mkhize on health sector coping with Covid-19 resurgence

Health minister Zweli Mkhize said with the resurgence of infections in Eastern Cape, the number of Covid-19 cases has been higher than during the surge in July and August. File picture.
Health minister Zweli Mkhize said with the resurgence of infections in Eastern Cape, the number of Covid-19 cases has been higher than during the surge in July and August. File picture.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Health minister Zweli Mkhize has expressed concern about the sector's ability to cope with a resurgence in Covid-19 infections, saying heath-care workers will again feel the pressure.

In a department of health podcast this week, Mkhize said he feared staff in the Eastern Cape were more likely to feel the pressure due to the challenges that arise from the historical underfunding of the department in the province.

He said with the resurgence, the numbers of Covid-19 cases were higher than during the surge in July and August.

“The pressure is being felt by staff,” said Mkhize. “In addition, it's the same staff, same health workers who were part of the surge and have been under pressure since the onset of Covid-19.

“The fatigue and the psychosocial strain among our staff is a real issue.

“We want to acknowledge our staff have been dedicated and hardworking and have spent all their time fighting Covid-19. It is understandable that at this point the pressure would be felt even more.”

Mkhize warned that due to the increase in Covid-19 infections, many staff will also suffer.

“What will exacerbate the pressure is that there will not only be an increase in the numbers of cases but the number of staff who will get infected will also increase, causing many of them to take leave or go into isolation as the situation demands.

“Those who remain will stay with the tension of seeing their colleagues either getting sick or passing, and this we acknowledge as an issue,” he said.

Mkhize promised counselling would be provided to health workers and the government will look at the distribution of workload so health workers can get a break and “freshen up”.

He said the issue of personal protective equipment (PPE) will not arise again, like it did during the first surge, because stock "has been managed".

“At this point, the issue of PPE has been managed in such a way that it doesn’t arise as a concern to the same extent it did before,” he said.

TimesLIVE


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