The Health MEC, Phophi Ramathuba this week refuted claims that the provincial pharmaceutical depot is running low on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
This follows an Observer report last week relating the death of a former journalist, Karen Venter, whose life partner contacted EMS ambulance services for assistance. According to Theuns Jonker, he was told that an ambulance would not be dispatched as no PPE was available.
The MEC conducted an oversight visit to the depot in Seshego, and reported that there was an “abundance of PPE”.
Regarding the non-availability of an EMS ambulance, the MEC said she has received a number of complaints in this regard, and added that mismanagement at EMS was to blame for the situation.
“If we have enough PPE in the depot, then it is the responsibility of the various institutions to ensure that they order stock from the depot.”
She said the department does not have space for workers who don’t perform their duties.
DA MP, Lindy Wilson said she has written to the Minister of Health on the issue and is awaiting a response.
“I have also been engaging with the SA Human Rights Commission on this matter, however, everything is moving slowly because of the lockdown and people working remotely.”
She said the MEC’s visit to the depot doesn’t change her stance on the events of last week, that relate to Venter’s death.
“Whatever the grounds for the EMS to refuse to fetch a patient still stand. It is inhumane, unconstitutional and those responsible still need to be made accountable regardless of the abundance of PPE at the depot.”
During the visit, Depot Manager Makena Langa said the depot has deliverered PPE to all departmental institutions and still had enough stock to last the next two months. Langa says the depot has two million surgical masks, 100 000 body suits and 100 000 pairs of gloves.
“We also have enough sanitiser, including the stands and automatic machinery, to last us the next three months. This excludes donations.”
The MEC said the department is working hard to ensure that all frontline workers, especially those working in the casualty wards receive automated hand sanitiser and N95 face masks. “With the increase in cases, a nurse in the casualty is at a higher risk because as she responds to a patient, she might be dealing with someone who is positive but unaware of their status.”
Ramathuba expressed satisfaction over the PPE stock supplies at the depot, saying Limpopo is still on track to fight Covid-19.
Contacted for comment, the EMS manager referred the request back to the MEC’s office.
Story & photo: Umpha Manenzhe
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