All nine provinces in South Africa welcomed an envoy of medical health practitioners from Cuba to bolster the services of local health facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize, the help of the Cuban doctors will cost the state an estimated R239-million.
The 187 doctors will be in South Africa until April 2021.
The group comprises of the following specialists:
– 32 health technologists
– 116 family physicians
– 18 epidemiology technologists
– 2 public health specialists
– 5 biomedical engineers
– 1 nurse
– 13 biostatistics
All doctors are proficient in English, according to Mkhize, and R239 181 933 has been budgeted for their salaries while working in South Africa.
“The estimated budget cost is informed by actual appointment levels of the Cuban health brigade as determined by their registration category, which took into consideration years of experience,” he said during a Parliamentary briefing. “All the family physicians and biostatisticians are appointed at grade 2 of medical officer level, and epidemiology technologists/health technology and public health specialists are at deputy director level, while biomedical engineers are at ASD level.”
A further R734 100 will be paid to the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) for registration, but Mkhize added this will later be “recouped” from the doctors.
“As per the government-to-government agreement, the South African pays the fee to the HPCSA and, thereafter, deduct the full amount of registration from the individual health professionals’ first salary,” he said. “This means there is no actual cost to be incurred by the South African government, however it is a convenient process arranged to ensure that all of the professionals are registered accordingly.”
Most provinces have agreed to enter a 12-month contract with the Cuban medical professionals. In some provinces, however, provision was only made to accommodate the doctors between May and June. They will then be moved to hotspots areas.
“Therefore, the accommodation in these areas are still not confirmed, as negotiations are still under way,” he said.
The Cuban doctors residing in the Eastern Cape are accommodated in B&Bs, and a budget of R384 000 has been allocated for this. In the Free State, the doctors were staying at the Premier Hotel, Bloemfontein. They were undergoing an orientation process here, and were moved and spread across the province on June 1.
The Gauteng province negotiated a rate of R1 000 per room for each doctors, and this includes three meals per day, hand sanitisation and laundry services at the Burgers Park Hotel. The doctors have been here since May 15, and will remain until June 30. Thereafter, they will be distributed across the province between July 1 and April 2021. During this period, their accommodation will be provided by local hospitals.
The doctors in the Northern Cape will be accommodated at B&Bs until June – which will cost R320 000 – before they are distributed across the province. Between July 1 and April 2021, they will be accommodated by hospitals.
In Limpopo, the doctors are being orientated at the Zanami Lodge in Polokwane. This will cost the province R252 000.
In the Western Cape, the doctors will be staying at the four-star Icon Luxury apartments. It will cost the province R1.2-million to accommodate them for 12 months.