What the Cuban Brigade has done for SA’s COVID fight

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has highlighted the accomplishments of the Cuban medical brigade four months since they touched down in South Africa to assist in the fighting of COVID-19.

In a webinar on Friday, Mkhize said the team of about 200 medical experts have been deployed throughout the country.

“Even now, in our hour of need, we were able to call on our Cuban sisters and brothers and they answered to that call, leaving family, friends and relatives behind to join hands with us in solidarity against the Coronavirus,” he said.

Eastern Cape

Eastern Cape was allocated 12 medical officers including biomedical engineers, epidemiologists, and biostaticians.

The medical officers have been resourceful in Primary Health Care as this is their specialty, Mkhize said.

“Their data analytics and information management has been key in assessing the impact of intervention strategies. The biomedical engineers have been critical in the design, installation, adjusting, repairing and provision of technical support for biomedical equipment,” he said.

Gauteng

In Gauteng, members of the Cuban Medical Brigade were distributed throughout all five districts and some have been doing work with the central office.

They are mainly working in quarantine and isolation sights, ward-based contract tracing, epidemiological surveillance and in hospitals where there has been noticeable nosocomial spread.

Northern Cape

The Brigade is conducting outreach services in critical areas of need. They are serving as clinical leaders to the management teams and assist in the screening, testing and quarantining of patients.

“The Northern Cape department of Health has attested to the invaluable contribution of the Covid-19 personnel from the Brigade,” Mkhize said.

Limpopo

Eight medical officers have been deployed into various facilities in five districts to boost case management. The team in the province comprises clinical engineering technologists, hygienists and biostaticians.

“The deployments were based on areas where it was identified there was a shortage of human resources. Their presence has reduced workload and pressure on staff members, provided much needed relief, improved processing of data and contributed to improved data reporting that feeds into the daily situational report on COVID-19 in the province,” the minister said.

“The heath technologists have greatly assisted with the assessment of non-functional equipment.”

Western Cape

The 28-strong team deployed to the Western Cape consisted of health professionals with experience in planning, execution and management of the public health.

They were fully integrated into the clinical teams working alongside the South African health professionals in order to strengthen the province’s response to COVID-19.

Free State

17 members of the Brigade were deployed to the province, their allocation addressed issues of staff shortage and this also led to an improvement in data collation.

“South Africa and Cuba are undoubtedly two leading nations in medical expertise – especially in the fields of emergency outbreak reposes. This is a natural and fitting collaboration that captures the spirit of global solidarity,” Mkhize concluded.

“We have no doubt that this investment will leave a lasting legacy in our growing democracy and will help to pave the way towards the ideals that we share of delivering quality health care to all people, regardless of race, colour or creed.”