Cuban doctors welcomed but government told to hire unemployed SA healthcare workers

More than 200 Cuban health professionals touched down in South Africa in the early hours of Monday morning, 27 April 2020. Image: Facebook/Presidency of the Republic of South Africa

The organisation says unemployed doctors and nurses are available to assist the country in the fight against Covid-19.

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) has said it welcomes and appreciates the 200 Cuban officials who are risking their lives to assist South Africa in the fight against Covid-19, however, the organisation called on the government to hire unemployed South African healthcare workers.

Cuba has sent 200 medical officials, including experts, to fight the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

Speaking to the SABC on Tuesday morning, Denosa president Simon Hlungwani said the organisation did not have an issue with the arrival of the Cuban medical officials in South Africa, which has a shortage of doctors and specialists.

However, Hlungwani said some South African professionals remain unemployed, including doctors who had completed their community service in 2019 as well as nurses in provinces such as Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State.

Hlungwani said South African health professionals should not be disregarded when employment opportunities are available, adding that in the past weeks a number of job vacancies in the sector have been advertised which saw thousands of applications being made by South Africans.

He said the government should fill these vacancies and state how many healthcare professionals have been employed.

Hlungwani said South African nurses must be trained to conduct Covid-19 tests in villages across the country as the Cuban contingent would not be able to cover all these areas.

“So there are people who are available including doctors who were let go in January this year,” Hlungwani said.

Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the arrival of the Cuban medical officials in the country was welcomed by the federation. However, he noted that the unemployment rate of South African health professionals is a concern.

“Our view is that firstly this a temporary arrangement where you need all the hands you can get,” Pamla said during an interview with the SABC.

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)

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