Wits health faculty to picket over Gauteng ’humanitarian’ health crisis

Wits health faculty to picket over Gauteng ’humanitarian’ health crisis

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Johannesburg – Staff and students from the University of the Witwatersrand Faculty of Health Sciences will hold a five-day picket to raise awareness about the healthcare crisis in Gauteng and to put pressure on stakeholders to take action.

The faculty says the closure of the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital and the threat of the Covid-19 third wave has put the healthcare system in Gauteng in a rapid decline.

The hospital has been closed since a fire broke out on 16 April which destroyed R40 million worth of medical consumables and 40% of the hospital’s intensive care beds.

As Gauteng is expected to see a greater spike in infections within the next 2-3 week, the faculty says more patients will be requiring intensive case, however the province is struggling to provide adequate healthcare to its residents.

Vaccinologist and Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor Shabir Madhi said: “It is clear that what we face is a humanitarian crisis in the midst of a global pandemic. And it is no longer acceptable”.

The picket is set to take place every day from Thursday, 24 June to Wednesday, 30 June between 12pm and 1pm, however the weekend will be excluded.

The group will meet outside the Wits health faculty and outside the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

Participants have been asked to wear black to observe the solemnity of the occasion.

Chair of the Faculty's Professional Ethics and Standards Committee and a senior clinician, Professor Ashraf Coovadia, says the faculty will be representing over 7 000 staff and students working within the healthcare system in Gauteng

“We can no longer stand by and bear witness to a growing humanitarian crisis without raising our voices,“ he said.

In a press release, the faculty said the health crisis in Gauteng has had an impact on the clinical training of undergraduate and postgraduate students.

“The faculty has witnessed the rapid decline of the health care system in Gauteng, particularly in the context of the closure of Charlotte Maxeke Hospital and the threat of the Covid-19 third wave. This has far-reaching implications, not only for those who require health care services, but also for those required to provide it.”

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