Department Of Health Failed Healthcare Workers

Healthcare workers are trusted by many to stay in the loop about everything health-related. However, a survey has now found that this was not the case with Covid-19. 

The survey found that nearly half of all health care workers did not understand how Covid-19 is spread or its incubation period. The survey was done in mid-April and May by the Human Sciences Research Council and UKZN's Nelson Mandela School of Medicine.

Professor Mosa Moshabela from UKZN said the findings of the survey were concerning because health care workers should have been educated about Covid-19. 

"By that time [April/May] you would expect that health workers are adequately prepared, they've got adequate knowledge, they're confident in what they're supposed to do and arrangements have been made to make sure that their safety is ensured"

He also said another problem that healthcare workers are facing is the lack of safety at work. 

"Most of the time when we talk about the safety of health workers we talk about PPE, but actually there are a lot of risks that are present in the environment where they work."

He said health workers have to touch many objects and are exposed to patients on ventilators in hospitals, and this increases their risk of being infected with Covid-19.

"Even if one were to use PPE, if a mistake is made then transmission happens. We've heard stories of how a lot of transmissions can happen in tea rooms when they lower their guard. That's why we have to make sure we don't just look at PPE, but we look at the environment as well."

This was also the argument of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (NEHAWU), which called for healthcare workers to protest in July. 

General secretary of NEHAWU, Zola Saphetha said workers and managers at health institutions complained of staff shortages and a shortage of PPE.

"Public health institutions are chronically suffering from unsanitary conditions, long queues, exhausted and irritable workforce amongst other negative factors"

"We also found that there were challenges in relation to PPE distribution to frontline workers. In one instance, frontline workers were given a surgical mask on Friday to wear for the following week."



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