- The hefty bill to have Cuban doctors assisting South Africans in the fight against Covid-19 has numerous eyebrows raising
- The salaries alone for the foreign experts are set to reach over R230 million over the course of a year
- The Democratic Alliance wants to know exactly who will be footing the bill the is expected to reach nearly R440 million
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The deployment of Cuban doctors was seen as an act of heroism by many South Africans who were grateful for the helping hand amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Briefly.co.za reported that Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize had confirmed that the team of specialists would cost R230 million and more just to cover their salaries.
Accommodation costs for the doctors are also expected to rise into millions of rands and the Democratic Alliance wants to know who is really forking over the high cost.
The opposition party told Briefly.co.za that it wants to know where the R440 million would be coming from and whether or not it is a justifiable use of public funds:
"Information that we have suggests that National Treasury is looking to the provinces that will be getting Cuban health doctors allocated to them to fund the endeavour. Many provinces are stretched to their absolute limits with many unfilled critical vacancies. It would be irresponsible to expect funds to be redirected to funding the deployment of these doctors."
READ ALSO: Covid-19: Cuban doctors costing SA R239 million in salaries alone
But this isn't the only questions the DA has for the government over this seemingly well-intentioned deployment:
- Was a skills audit done in the country to find out what critical skills were needed that the local health professionals did not have;
- Did this audit inform which specialists were requested from Cuba;
- Is the alleged R440 million a prudent use of limited resources in fighting this pandemic; and
- Why were health professionals’ bodies not consulted about the move so that they can assist in ensuring all South Africa professionals are in fact used sufficiently in the fight against this pandemic?
Siviwe Gwarube, DA Shadow Minister of Health, weighed in that urgent clarity was needed from Mkhize:
"Every effort must be made to wage a fight against the spread of this pandemic. Additionally, we welcome any additional resources being provided. However, we must make sure that South African health professionals are not being overlooked in the Covid-19 strategy. We need to ensure that every doctor, specialist and any other needed health professional is put to work as a priority before any other healthcare worker from elsewhere in the world. This is why urgent clarity is needed from Dr Mkhize."
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