Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Pretoria: The Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, says South Africa stands to benefit from the arrival of the Cuban medical brigade, as the country fights the outbreak of COVID-19.Unpacking the country’s COVID-19 situational analysis on Tuesday evening, Mkhize welcomed the arrival of 217 Cuban doctors from various disciplines.

Mkhize said the Cuban doctors have a particular strength in the case of community medicine, and their presence is very helpful in approaching situations such as the outbreak of COVID-19.

He said the doctors have been allocated to various provinces on the basis of the weight of the outbreak, where they will work alongside South African medical professionals.

“We have 26 [doctors] who are going to be allocated to the Western Cape. These [include] 18 family physicians, who are in the community health field,” Mkhize said, adding that epidemiologists, health technologists and biostatisticians, among others, also form this cohort of medical practitioners.

The doctors will help to analyse the outbreak trends on the ground and help the department to structure its strategy.

Twenty-nine Cuban doctors will be allocated to Gauteng, 28 to KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape 20, Free State 17, Mpumalanga 13, Limpopo 13, North West 13 and Northern Cape 11.

Placement of doctors looking for jobs

The Minister stressed that the Cuban doctors are not here to fill vacancies, but are in the country to help contain the outbreak.  He called on local doctors who are looking for placements to contact their own provinces and submit applications, as the country is looking for additional doctors.

“Because of COVID-19, we understand there is going to be additional pressure. We are going to be taking more people in, and we’ve even called on some of the retired or volunteers to come on board, even if it is for the short-term,” Mkhize said.

However, the Minister said qualified foreign national doctors, who are not registered through the Health Professions Council of South Africa and could not pass entry exams, cannot be employed until they are registered and have passed the exam.