North East District Council Chairperson Flora Mpetsane has expressed concern over the shortage of staff especially doctors in the district which impedes the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
Addressing a full council meeting recently, she said the District Health Management Team (DHMT) faces challenges as health workers are resigning with some going on study leave.
“The district should have at least 14 doctors. Currently there are 10 medical officers, four in Masunga Primary Hospital instead of seven. The remaining six instead of eight are for cluster clinics. But the situation has forced the DHMT to pull some doctors from clusters to assist the hospital leaving some clinics compromising services at the clusters,” she said.
She said service for cluster clinics will be offered through outreach approach where possible. Mpetsane said the most Covid-19 affected villages are Tati Siding, Ditladi, Mapoka, Masunga, Sekakangwe and Makaleng. She said the Covid-19 pandemic has since taken a different toll in the district as there has been an upward trend in the number of cases.
“Cumulatively the district registered 1 417 cases, Tati Siding village registering the most. The number of deaths has been increasing nationally, however the District registered 21 deaths, Tati Siding alone registered six deaths,” she added.
Mpetsane revealed that in December 2020, the district introduced testing using rapid antigen method at Ramokgwebana Border. She said this was done as part of screening for incoming travelers. Rapid antigen testing was rolled out to the rest of the District on 23 December, 2020, and testing was done in all clinics and health posts. She explained that this was a strategy used to reduce the turnaround time for results.
“Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) was still being used as a golden standard. However, there is currently shortage with PCR reagents and it is only done under special circumstances,” she said.
She also raised concern over an increase in the outbreak of Covid-19 in schools especially boarding schools in the district. The schools that are affected are Masunga Senior Secondary School, Shanganani CJSS and Thamani CJSS.
She said other schools have also been affected but not to an outbreak proportion. Mpetsane also revealed that there has been a decision by the Ministry of Health and Wellness to convert Masunga Primary Hospital into a Covid-19 Treatment Centre. This is meant to help the already overwhelmed Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital which is the only one in the country.
“Matsiloje isolation centre has undergone minor maintenance by Facilities Management Department. The repairs were mainly on the plumbing system already occupied blocks. Currently the centre has a capacity of 308 beds. As it stands there are 250 people admitted at the centre as at 16 March 2021,” she said.