KZN, Limpopo health urged to get other oxygen suppliers as Covid-19 cases rise

15 January 2021 - 08:07
KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo health departments have said there were problems securing sufficient oxygen supplies for Covid-19 patients at the provinces' hospitals.
KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo health departments have said there were problems securing sufficient oxygen supplies for Covid-19 patients at the provinces' hospitals.
Image: 123RF/Yuriy Klochan

Parliament's portfolio committee on health has expressed concern at the insufficient oxygen supply for Covid-19 patients in hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.

The problem with oxygen supply emerged during a briefing to the committee by the KwaZulu-Natal and the Limpopo departments of health on the status of health care services in relation to Covid-19.

KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu told the committee on Thursday that funerals have become Covid-19 super-spreaders, as people were not observing health protocols during these events.

She said Afrox, the company that supplies all the provinces with oxygen, has been struggling to keep up with demand.

Simelane-Zulu said the province had decided to look for other suppliers to ensure that the demand for oxygen in KZN was met.

The committee agreed and said one oxygen supplier could not have capacity to cope with the demand, that was increasing daily.

Limpopo health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba told the committee the effects of the second wave in the province were five times higher than in the first wave.

Ramathuba said additional resources such as human resources, personal protective equipment, oxygen and infrastructure were required, but with restricted finances.

The committee also heard that bed occupancy was under pressure in all Limpopo’s hospitals.

Ramathuba said in addition to staff shortages at health facilities, there was also absenteeism among health care workers.

On the staff shortage issue, the committee told the department that staff recruitment needed immediate attention.

It advised the department that, given the prevailing pressure of workload, the contracts of health care workers which were expiring should be extended.

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