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South African public health workers are forced to wear torn PPE, 17 public hospitals are affected

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As South Africa is facing a second wave, frontline workers who are giving their all to fight Covid-19 are the most exposed to the disease due to the direness of personal protection equipment (PPE).

Deputy public protector, Advocate Kholeka Gcaleka said public health workers are forced to use one PPE the whole day due to the alleged shortage thereof, saying merely doctors are protected with full PPE.

According to News24, Gcaleka’s office embarked on blitz inspection at some public hospitals nationwide.

“Hospitals did not have sufficient PPE. At some hospitals, staff are required to use one PPE the entire day. Only doctors were provided with full PPE and not all staff members,” segment of the findings yielded by the inspection.

The blitz inspection focuses mainly on the determination of compliancee with enforcement, of which was directed at public hospitals in Limpopo, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape.

The inspection took place and covered 17 public hospital with the finding including or related PPE.

Gcaleka said some wards in inspected hospitals were not provided with proper PPE as some would tear immediately whilst some are re-used.

“PPE masks are re-used. Incorrect PPE masks are procured and there are incorrect sizes of PPE. There is inadequate protection for healthcare workers and other staff members due to a lack of PPE. Nurses are only allowed one bodysuit per day,” she said.

It is said that, in some of these hospitals, nurses are urged to wear one bodysuits even though they are dismantled, and such is unreservedly detrimental to their health as they are prone to contracting the disease.

“Nurses are forced to wear bodysuits even if it is torn, thereby risking their health. The procured PPE are not as per the specifications and are substandard. PPE stock levels at the warehouse where PPE are collected, are very low,” she added.

She said there was a situation where the PPE were not delivered by the provider as exhibited on the hospital’s database. And that doctors are overworked because of the shortage of clinical staff.

“Workload for the doctors was to high. Doctors are often expected to work excessive hours as a result of clinical staff shortages,” said Advocate.

Gcaleka proposed issues outlined should be dealt with by the respective facilities.

“There is a host of intervention that we propose in respect of each of the facilities to deal with the various issues identified,” she said.