All health issues need our attention

The writer says health minister Zweli Mkhize and the government should listen to the doctors who asked for renewed attention to other diseases, in order to avoid dealing with a catastrophe later.
The writer says health minister Zweli Mkhize and the government should listen to the doctors who asked for renewed attention to other diseases, in order to avoid dealing with a catastrophe later.
Image: Trevor Samson

The country went on a complete shutdown for five weeks to delay the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and to prepare for its peak.

During this period, patients who did not need urgent medical attention were advised to stay at home, to allow the healthcare system to attend to people with or suspected of being infected with Covid-19.

This was a move adopted by many other countries after recording positive cases of the virus in their shores. It also earned President Cyril Ramaphosa praise from the World Health Organisation for how well the country had handled the outbreak.

Unfortunately, this led to kids missing out on vaccinations, pregnant mothers not going for their monthly antenatal classes and many chronic illness patients not collecting their medication out of fear of getting the coronavirus.

Cabinet ministers and the president went all over the country ensuring all provinces were ready, unveiling multiple facilities that had been equipped and prepared to quarantine and treat those infected by the virus.

The lockdown was slightly eased earlier this month to allow a bit of economic activity to resume, and more industries would start operating next month.

In yesterday's edition, we reported on a group of doctors who wrote to the minister of health Zweli Mkhize and Ramaphosa asking for a renewed attention to other diseases.

"We are deeply concerned that in our approach to manage one healthcare pandemic we are inadvertently causing a much greater healthcare crisis in SA," they said.

It makes sense that the babies who didn't get immunisations should be allowed to get it now, as the longer they wait the greater the risk of contracting diseases they need to be vaccinated for such as measles.

The same goes for expectant mothers and chronic patients, it is time to resume treatment before they present with complications.

We urge the government to listen to the doctors, they are after all experts who should be heeded if they warn of dangers ahead.

In our bid to save lives from Covid-19, let them not die from manageable diseases because they fear going to hospitals, new communication is needed from the health department.

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