catastrophic health situation in South African hospitals in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis


“The last time I was on duty, I had eight pairs of gloves. How to work with eight pairs of gloves during a twelve hour shift? “Testified on condition of anonymity a nurse of the hospital of Livingstone in the province of the Eastern Cape (south), a few weeks ago, with AFP.

“It’s hard to predict if we will be able to manage the situation,” said a doctor from the city of East London in Eastern Cape, denouncing the lack of respirators and training for carers. “The system was already lame before, so it’s hard to prepare for a pandemic,” he added.

In the past few weeks, at least five hospitals in the Eastern Cape have been temporarily closed for decontamination after the appearance of many more positive cases among healthcare staff. Other establishments had also closed due to strikes launched to denounce working conditions, lack of hygiene and workload.

In a letter to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize in late June, a nurse who contracted the virus cried out, “We are working nonstop in my hospital,” wrote Beverley McGee, an employee at a private clinic in Cape Town. “We nurses are emotionally exhausted, overwhelmed by anger, anxiety, fear, stress and disappointment. ”

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Limited places, reduced access to oxygen, the ailments are numerous. And in some hospitals, the situation is much more serious. In a report published by the BBC and some local media, caregivers at Livingstone Hospital, one of the largest in the country, speak of “war scenes”. Blood on the floor, litter and waste in all the rooms and even … rats, who wander quietly between the patients, the employees speak of “chaos”.

Faced with the health crisis in the country, many doctors are physically and mentally exhausted. At Port Elizabeth’s Dora Nginza Hospital, many young pregnant women and young children are dying: “I personally participated in the delivery of two dead children, and I know there are many folds. It’s unusual. Having several mothers and babies who die in a single week is unheard of, and it is unacceptable, ”said a doctor.

The country has already experienced more than 4,300 deaths and the number of cases is close to 300,000.

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