SAMA chair Dr Coetzee

The
South African Medical Association (SAMA) has issued a statement noting with
concern reports from many of its members in the public sector that they either
do not have the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), or that the PPE is
in short supply.

“This
is an untenable situation. Front-line medical staff must be protected at all
times. This is especially essential for those medical practitioners treating
patients with, or who are suspected of having, COVID-19. The reliable supply of
proper PPE is simply non-negotiable, and SAMA demands that this happens,” says
Dr Angelique Coetzee, Chairperson of SAMA.

“Doctors
and other healthcare workers cannot be expected to expose themselves to
unreasonable risks, and provincial health departments and healthcare facilities
have a legal, ethical and moral responsibility to protect healthcare workers
who may be exposed to the coronavirus. MECs and Heads of Departments must
ensure that enough reliable masks, gloves, goggles, and gowns are available at
all times,” she notes.

An
added issue for many healthcare practitioners is that the facilities
established at several hospitals are not in line with recommendations for
adequate administrative and environmental controls to protect staff from
infections.

“Apart
from the lack of reliable PPE, facilities which do not meet the required
standards pose a severe risk to not only practitioners and patients, but also
to all their loved ones at home, and our entire overburdened healthcare system.
We cannot afford to risk exposure, and for healthcare workers to become ill, or
have to self-isolate, as a result thereof,” says Dr Coetzee.

She
says healthcare workers sitting at home, self-isolating will not be able to
provide much-needed care, and the capacity of the healthcare system will face
potential collapse. Members who are not furnished with adequate PPE proportionate
to their risk of exposure, she adds, should not be expected to render services
that may endanger their lives and the lives of others.

“We
advise doctors who do not have access to proper PPE to refrain from activities
that may result in exposure. We also call on them to alert SAMA immediately if
there is no, or limited access to PPE, or if their facility does not meet the
requirements for adequate administration and environmental controls,” she
advises in conclusion.

SOURCE:
SAMA Communications