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Gauteng health receives ventilators

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The acting Gauteng Health MEC, Jacob Mamabolo, on Monday handed over 36 ventilator machines donated by the Solidarity Fund to the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

According to the provincial department, this is the first batch of 1 000 ventilators that will be donated to 60 hospitals in South Africa by the public benefit organisation.

“These machines represent a very useful option in the management of COVID-19 patients, who require more than just oxygen supportive therapy for COVID-19 pneumonia,” said Mamabolo.

According to the Solidarity Fund, it approved the additional funding of R405 million in July to go towards the purchase of critical healthcare equipment for the public hospital system in the hotspots of Gauteng, the Western Cape and Eastern Cape.

“This was in response to the expected surge in hospital admissions caused by COVID-19, which was predicted to peak in late August,” the fund explained.

Also, a further R250 million was approved for the local production of up to 20 000 non-invasive continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) ventilators in support of the National Ventilator Project.

Medical institutions have struggled to find and supply the necessary equipment to treat Coronavirus patients locally and abroad, and the lifesaving machines have been high on their list of critical equipment.

“As we traverse the predicted peak of COVID-19 infections in South Africa, it is important that we accelerate our efforts to arm medical practitioners with the equipment they need,” Solidarity Fund interim CEO, Nomkhita Nqweni, said.

“We are gratified that the first instalment of ventilators is being distributed ahead of schedule, and are committed to ensuring the speedy dispatch of all ventilators to medical facilities on the frontline of the fight against this pandemic. We thank every single one of our generous and committed donors for making this possible.”

The non-invasive ventilators form an essential component in the management of patients with mild-to-moderate respiratory failure and free up intubation ventilators for the more critical patients.

Dr Oliver Smith, from Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, said the introduction of these machines will play a major role in treating and managing the disease.

“Invasive intubation, while effective, is not always necessary. Intubating a patient when they may not need it denies another patient potentially life-saving treatment in resource-limited settings. These non-invasive ventilators will go a long way in relieving the pressure on stretched resources, while giving patients the necessary care for their recovery,” Smith said.

The fund has undertaken initiatives based on four key pillars since its inception in March, which are to prevent, protect, care and support those affected by the pandemic.

Through the support of over 300 000 donors – individuals and enterprises – the fund has received R3.131 billion in pledges, with R3.062 billion already deposited.

It has also approved R2.260 billion towards the initiatives of health response, humanitarian support to communities and behaviour change related to COVID-19.

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