Health MEC tells Cubans to avoid the 'big mistake' of doing things the SA way

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The Cuban doctors deployed to Limpopo should not make the “big mistake” of their predecessors and start doing things "the South African way”, said the province's Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba.

The Limpopo Health Department has welcomed 13 Cuban doctors to the province, with Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba saying they were relying on their expertise. The Times reports that the group comprises eight family physicians, one epidemiologist, one biostatistician and three health technologists.

Ramathuba said the Cubans had come at the right time, adding that being a rural province, Limpopo had been struggling without epidemiologists and biostatisticians who are key in guiding the province on how best to approach the COVID-19 pandemic. “We believe their presence will significantly boost our public health sector personnel capacity in the fight against the pandemic,” Ramathuba said at a press conference held to welcome the doctors. She said they were encouraged by the fact that Cuba was always able to tackle difficult medical situations with minimal resources, and hoped the doctors could do the same in Limpopo.

The province has about 6m residents, and around 92% of them depend on the stretched health system, Ramathuba said. “One issue I need to warn you about is that your predecessors who came here made the big mistake of being swallowed by the system instead of coming here and providing expertise. They started doing things the South African way,” Ramathuba said.

She said South Africa is running a curative health-care system which is unsustainable. Cuba, on the other hand, is running a preventive health-care system, and this is where South Africa needed help.

According to The Times report, Ramathuba said the Cuban medics were not a threat to the locals. “No-one is here to take your jobs,” said Ramathuba, stressing that there will never be enough doctors to tackle the coronavirus. She said the Cubans were simply brought in to augment to existing medics.

“If we don't win this, it will be my head that will be chopped. When you see I am messing up, correct me,” Ramathuba said.

Full report in The Times

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