Long arm of the riots still affecting health sector

Healthcare services will continue to feel the effects of the recent riots, violence and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and some parts of Gauteng even as efforts to rebuild begin.

2021-08-04 03:45:00 PM

Healthcare services will continue to feel the effects of the recent riots, violence and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and some parts of Gauteng even as efforts to rebuild begin.

The recent violence and looting in KZN and Gauteng have forced people to go without chronic medication and check-ups, caused shortages at blood banks and disrupted the vaccine rollout.

The riots have worsened problems faced by the SANBS.“The winter months and school holiday periods are typically challenging for us in terms of collections. The added pressures of the third wave and level four lockdown have also kept us out of corporates, where a substantial amount of our blood is collected. The support of our donors has fortunately allowed us to maintain sufficient blood stocks. However, we know the shelf life of our blood products is limited, and a prolonged interruption of our operations could have dire consequences for our recipients,” said Mahlangu.

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Covid-19 vaccination centres in parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal were also forced to close. Along with slowing the vaccine rollout, Kubheka and Kabala worried the riots may have been super-spreader events.“The lockdown has socioeconomic implications and the vaccination programme is critical for achieving population immunity and economic recovery. Delays in vaccination will render more people prone to severe Covid-19 disease, putting additional strain on the health system.”

Boikhutso said: “Vaccination will help contain the virus in the long run and if we do not have enough people vaccinated, it simply means we will continue to see these peaks and deaths among our people.”Unable to access medicationAfter soldiers were dispatched to hotspots in the two provinces, the situation stabilised  and KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng were able to resume vaccination programmes. This return to calm also meant chronic medication could again be collected.  headtopics.com

Savy Mafindo Matimura, 54, and Tendai Matimura, 62, who live in Hyde Park, could not collect their chronic medication at Edenvale Hospital. Savy has high blood pressure, and her husband, Tendai, is asthmatic.Savy had an appointment to collect their medication on July 12.

“When we were near Alexandra, there was smoke all over and people running up and down. Cars were hooting. I decided to come back because there was no way to get to Edenvale Hospital.”Before Savy was put on high blood pressure medication, she suffered a stroke. She spent five days without her medicine, eventually getting it on July 20, along with her husband’s.

“I am not that happy because I have days I didn’t take medication. I have to take it every single day, [as does] my husband.”Kubheka and Kabala said chronic medication needs to be taken consistently as disruptions can exacerbate the disease progression. Patients on HIV treatment may end up developing resistance to medicines.

“Independent pharmacies have also been looted and destroyed and many have closed due to uncertainty and for protection of their staff and assets.“Accessing medication will be a lot more challenging for individuals. They may need to find alternative health service providers who may be far from home or where they usually access medical services. This may come at a high cost and make it even more challenging to navigate the public health system, mainly if proactive communication about alternatives is not provided.” headtopics.com

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