NGO Gift of the Givers said in a statement on Sunday that the biggest challenge South Africa faced as a country would be when the novel coronavirus entered communities where there were large numbers of immunocompromised individuals with pre-existing conditions such as TB, HIV, Aids, cancer, malnutrition, diabetes, etc.
The novel coronavirus could “slip” through but there was no need for panic, as in most cases “the disease should be self-limiting”, said Gift of the Givers founder and medical doctor Imtiaz Sooliman.
“Infection in this instance could pose a serious threat to the patient and our overburdened health facilities. It is at this critical phase that Gift of the Givers intends to intervene if the need arises, focusing on providing protective equipment for high-risk medical personnel in the front line dealing with the virus, and purchasing ventilators, intubation sets and general medical supplies required for the management process.
“Gift of the Givers is putting aside R5 million from its emergency reserves, and will make available all its emergency medical equipment and ambulances to support the public health services if the need arises.”
Backabuddy, the crowdfunding platform, and Gift of the Givers had combined to set up a fundraising campaign to increase their capacity to intervene at more facilities should the volume of critically ill patients increase.
“These are only precautionary steps with no need to cause panic as the greatest form of disaster management is disaster preparation. The reality is that government alone will not manage if we have large numbers of critically infected people.
“Support from corporates, medical and other professionals, high-net-worth individuals and anyone and everyone who can contribute in some way will be mandatory.
“God willing, South Africa escapes unscathed from the Covid-19 crisis; the funds received will then be utilised to upgrade existing medical facilities in dire need of new equipment.”
Contributions were welcome into the Backabuddy platform at https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/Coronavirus-support or into:
Gift of the Givers, Standard Bank, Pietermaritzburg, Account number 052137228, Branch Code, ref. Covid-19.
Medical equipment and medical disposables in kind would be accepted. For Section 18A tax-deductible certificates, donors were encouraged to send details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Health departments, including an MEC, disaster management services, corporate companies and many individuals have requested to work with Gift of the Givers in the event of a severe crisis.
“We in turn have a direct working relationship with the national department of health through Ahmed Bham, deputy – director of emergency and disaster medicine, who led the medical team to Wuhan, and is also head of Gift of the Givers’ Search and Rescue team.
“Dr William Mapham, founder of the Vula app, which is linked to 11,000 medical professionals, will immediately update any new Covid-19 cases on a daily basis, is another member of this partnership. Dr William will be one of the volunteers manning the NICD (National institute for Communicable Diseases) hotline.”
Gift of the Givers would continue with its borehole drilling programme in the Eastern Cape and Qwa-Qwa, targeting schools, clinics and hospitals, and delivering clean water with water tankers for drinking and hygiene purposes, seven days a week.
“The absence of clean water in drought-affected areas will complicate efforts to curtail the spread of the virus. Government needs to consider appropriate action urgently. Another simple measure that may not cause too much disruption is to extend the Easter school holidays by an additional week,” Sooliman concluded.
(Compiled by Charles Cilliers)