Health Dept: There's no move to replace SA docs with other nationalities
Health workers have asked government to explain why the Cuban health professionals have been brought in to help when there are thousands of qualified medical professionals who are looking for jobs.
CAPE TOWN - The national Health Department has insisted that the contingent of Cuban health professionals which has arrived in the country will bolster South Africa's coronavirus fight and not replace local medical workers.
They touched down in South Africa on Monday and will have to undergo mandatory quarantine before they're deployed.
Health workers have asked government to explain why the Cubans have been brought in to help when there are thousands of qualified medical professionals who are looking for jobs.
The department's deputy director-general Yogan Pillay said that the Cubans were specialists in their fields.
"Let me reassure South African health professionals - doctors, nurses and anyone else - they are the mainstay of our health system and they will continue to be such. There's no intention of replacing South Africans with any other nationality."
Pillay said that the department was gearing up to ensure hospitals across the country were adequately resourced.
"Every day we get better at finding the resources, both in the public and the private sector, and we've been looking at the number of hospital beds that we have and ICU beds that we have in each aspect in the country, to look at how that relates to the number of cases we currently have and the number of cases we expect over the next three or four months."
WATCH: Cuban doctors arrive in SA to assist in fight against COVID-19
The South African Medical Association (Sama) said that government's decision to bring in the Cubans was premature.
Sama chairperson Angelique Coetzee said that the country was not at the peak of the pandemic yet and local health workers had managed to keep the number of infections stable.
"What we would suggest is that we use our own internal resources - there are a lot of doctors that are knowledgeable and that are retired that one can bring into the field with their expertise and they can then also train and mentor the younger doctors."
Additional reporting by Mia Lindeque.
For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.