Friday, January 7 2022

Ambulances immobilized, hospitals with reduced staff, vaccination program interrupted and clinics closed in eThekwini

  • Looting and widespread unrest in KwaZuku-Natal have hit critical health services hard.
  • Hospitals have a small staff.
  • Clinics were closed in eThekwini and many KZN ambulance services were grounded.
  • The vaccination program against Covid-19 has practically stopped according to the health MEC.
  • The Cabinet made the decision to deploy the South African National Defense Force.

Health services are strained by the widespread violent protests that have erupted in KwaZulu-Natal. On Monday, Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane said: “A number of hospitals, community health centers and clinics across KwaZulu-Natal are operating with skeletal staff, with many nurses, doctors, paramedics and health workers. support unable to report to work due to blockages, as well as lack of public transportation. “

“A lot of those who were working the night shift last night couldn’t make it home either,” she said.

“There are dozens of people in our hospitals who are fighting for their lives, who need urgent care from our doctors and nurses. Some are in critical condition, in intensive care, while others are in labor and need to go to the theater, ”said Simelane.

“Those who protest must understand that by preventing health workers or ambulances from doing their job, they could put the lives of their own loved ones at risk,” she said.

An ambulance driver based at the KwaMashu Community Health Care Center told GroundUp that there was a group of people in the morning who wanted to enter the center, but security managed to stop them. “We have been sitting here all day. There is nothing we can do. I only saw one nurse this morning and since then the clinic has been closed,” he said.

A patient currently on oxygen at a Durban hospital said: “They work very hard but without transport services, they are understaffed. As a public hospital, I have to say that I am just in awe of the workers. I’m just heartbroken that ordinary citizens have to suffer because no help can come to the scene. “

KwaZulu-Natal Private Ambulance Services Secretary-General Mario Booysen said more than 30 private ambulance services had shut down to protect their vehicles after an attack on a government ambulance on Sunday evening.

The town of eThekwini has closed its clinics. “The ongoing civil unrest has also affected community vaccination sites which could not function today,” the city said in a statement.

“The protests have practically ended the province’s very important vaccination program against Covid-19,” said Simelane.

“In Howick, an ambulance was set on fire, while another was attacked with stones in Marriannhill. Delays have also been reported in collecting the remains, as forensic services scramble to reach places where people have died. They are also unable to retrieve bodies from primary health care facilities (clinics) that do not have a mortuary, ”she said.

As of Monday morning, 123 people were arrested in KZN. Police also reported that there were six deaths. “In KwaZulu-Natal, there is a report that two people were killed, one in Inanda and the second in Umbilo. The circumstances that led to their death are under investigation. The extent of damage to property and looting of businesses will be determined. at a later stage. “

Meanwhile, the cabinet made the decision to deploy the South African National Defense Force.

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