Covid-19: Cuban doctors costing SA R239 million in salaries alone

Covid-19: Cuban doctors costing SA R239 million in salaries alone

- South Africa will be paying R239 million over the next year to cover the salaries of Cuban medical personnel

- The accommodation bill alone is expected to be over R6 million, excluding the costs involved for the Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal teams

- Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has claimed SA doesn't have the needed skilled professionals

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The Covid-19 pandemic is an expensive crisis there is no doubt about it but the once-heralded Cuban doctors are turning out to be quite pricey.

News24 reports that the government will be paying over R239 million in salaries for 187 members of the brigade.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize claims that the team consists of specialists in areas where SA simply does not have enough personnel.

"To date, the Republic of Cuba has availed 187 medical specialists, who will be assisting South Africa in the response to Covid-19. These are qualified in biostatisticians, epidemiologists, family physicians and health technologists."

READ ALSO: South Africa eager to welcome the “army in white gowns" from Cuba

The deployment of doctors had been welcomed to South Africa in late April to aid in the battle against the virus.

Mkhize had defended the high costs of salaries, saying expertise and experience had been taken into consideration:

"The estimated budget cost is informed by actual appointment levels of the Cuban Health Brigade as determined by their Registration category, which took into consideration years of experience. All the Family Physicians and Biostatisticians are appointed at Grade 2 of Medical Officer level and Epidemiology Technologists/ Health Technology and Public Health Specialists are at Deputy Director level while Biomedical Engineers are at ASD level."

With the teams moving from one province to another, accommodations costs are expected to run well over R6 million.

The team consists of the following specialists with the total salary costs for the next year in brackets:

  • 116 family physicians (R172 767 798)
  • 32 health technologists (R25 941 166)
  • 18 epidemiology technologists (R14 715 735)
  • 13 biostatisticians (R19 566 449)
  • 5 biomedical engineers (R2 773 887)
  • 2 public health specialists (R2 231 276)
  • 1 nurse (R528 852)

The People's Dialogue leader Herman Mashaba told that he is outraged at this move by our government, and criticised it as being part of South Africa’s foreign ties to the Cuban Government:

"What is abhorrent about this move is that it is taking place well South African doctors and medical graduates cannot find work. This must be seen as the continued failure to put the needs of the South African people before those of other nations."

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