Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has thanked the United States (US) for donating 1 000 ventilators to South African health facilities as they continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mkhize said on Thursday 21 May that several global and domestic institutions had made “generous donations” of personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as critical intensive-care unit (ICU) equipment needed to support those with the most severe cases of the virus.
US TO CONTINUE PROVIDING EQUIPMENT
Of the 1 000 ventilators the US has promised to provide, 50 have already arrived in the country, and Mkhize said that the equipment will have utility beyond the coronavirus pandemic’s urgent necessity.
“I want to express my gratitude for the continued partnership between the government of South Africa and the government of the United States of America through various programmes that we work with together,” Mkhize said.
“We remain resolute that whilst we fight COVID-19, it is important for us not to neglect the fight against other diseases such as HIV and TB.”
He said that he had met with a variety of representatives from a host of institutions on Thursday, with Old Mutual, AstraZeneca and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints also contributing important equipment to South Africa’s cause.
Mkhize said that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints had donated PPE worth more than $1 million (nearly R18 million).
“In our discussion with the elders of the church, it is very clear they have taken our fight against COVID-19 as a fight they have to be part of. It is true that the church has a role to play in our society…this cannot be ignored,” he said.
“As government, we acknowledge the role of religious leaders in society,” Mkhize added.
PHARMA COMPANY DONATES THOUSANDS OF PPE UNITS
Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca also donated 60 000 surgical masks and 10 000 blood pressure monitors, with Mkhize saying that these units would help assist with high-blood pressure patients and those with diabetes.
“We will deploy these 10 000 blood pressure monitors to community health workers. It’s a very important programme for us because we are actually going to move blood pressure monitoring into the communities,” he said.
“By so doing, we want to deal with a major rising threat of silent killers of non-communicable disease like high blood pressure and diabetes. It’s a very significant intervention which will improve our primary healthcare services as well,” Mkhize said.
Old Mutual increased its previous donation, adding almost one million surgical masks and gloves to their initial pledge.
“No health worker must be exposed to work without the provision of the appropriate PPE. They must also be properly trained so they are confident as they approach the treatment of people with COVID-19,” he said.