Mkhize: Other diseases are still being attended to amid COVID-19 outbreak

Mkhize was speaking on a continental panel convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa and the World Economic Forum.

FILE: Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said the focus on COVID-19 was not detracting from other diseases like diabetes, cancer and HIV.

Mkhize was speaking on a continental panel convened by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa and the World Economic Forum on Thursday afternoon.

South Africa has been commended for its response to COVID-19, but Mkhize said other work continued.

He said decisions like easing the lockdown to level 4 were informed by metrics that included the rate of infection and healthcare services readiness and various parts of the country were rated individually.

This approach has been applauded by WHO and other countries, but Mkhize said other diseases remained on his radar.

“We grapple with the matter every day. Health services must be able to deal with other comorbidities such as diabetes, HIV and cancer, that’s why additional resources were allocated so that COVID-19 doesn’t displace other patients."

Mkhize said if attention was taken away from other diseases, it would be disastrous: “We must allow people to still be treated for other diseases. Five million people on ARVs cannot get off. That cannot be undermined because that will create another problem. The messaging continues; we keep balance so people know you can’t prevent COVID-19 and still die of diabetes."

WHO Africa director Matshediso Moeti has repeatedly appealed to countries not to take their focus away from other diseases like ebola and malaria.


The novel coronavirus has infected more than 3.2 million people across the world and has claimed at least 227,000 lives.

The US has more than 1 million infections and nearly 61,000 deaths.

South Korea reported zero local transmissions on Wednesday for the first time since mid-February, but four new cases recorded in the country were imported.

Over in Pakistan, however, the country recorded 874 infections in the past 24 hours, its biggest one-day jump in cases so far.

It's not the only country that has seen a major jump in COVID-19 infections.

Singapore has recorded 528 new coronavirus cases as of Thursday, bringing the city-state's total to more than 15,600.

Russia reported more than 7,000 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, the country's biggest single-day jump so far.

Some countries are also ramping up COVID-19 testing.

Germany's labs can now conduct more than 860,000 coronavirus tests per week, double the amount they ran last week.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.