The Solidarity Fund, working with Business for South Africa (B4SA), has helped secure 100% of the N95 masks and nearly 80% of the surgical masks required in terms of weekly demand ahead of the expected surge in Covid-19 cases.
The successful procurement of this essential personal protective equipment (PPE) is crucial for the safety of healthcare workers and efforts to contain Covid-19, as the country eases the lockdown restrictions and hospitals prepare for the peak of coronavirus infections in the months ahead.
The Solidarity Fund and B4SA were able to secure the PPE, thanks to the more than R2-billion in donations received from businesses, foundations and ordinary citizens and took place in an extraordinarily tough environment, with almost every country in the world seeking to procure limited stocks from a few suppliers.
“The national lockdown was always intended to flatten the curve and to buy time for South Africa to better prepare our health services for increased numbers of Covid-19 cases. Our teams of volunteers have been hard at work using this time to secure PPE for healthcare workers treating those with the virus as well as containing its spread,” said Solidarity Fund CEO Nomkhita Nqweni.
The fund works with The National Coronavirus Command Council and B4SA to determine critical needs for the public health system. Once procured, orders are tracked and received, then delivered to National Department of Health depots, public hospitals and municipalities across the country.
In addition, 400 000 Covid-19 testing kits, costing R250-million, have been approved for the National Health Laboratory Service to support increased testing as lockdown eases on a risk-adjusted basis.
This week, the Solidarity Fund also approved funding of R11.3-million to manufacture two prototypes of locally-developed continuous positive airway pressure ventilators.
This is a project led by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition and managed by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory.
It aims to manufacture 10 000 such ventilators in South Africa by July of this year, coinciding with the projected peak in coronavirus infections.
This is in addition to 200 ventilators which have been ordered at the cost of R19.5-million to bolster the national system’s capacity to treat patients with the disease.
The fund has also funded significant food relief intervention with more than 137 800 food parcels delivered to distressed families across the country as of May 5, despite safety and security issues slowing deliveries to communities and food supply disruptions causing additional delays. The Solidarity Fund expects to meet its 250 000-delivery target by the middle of May.
To date, the fund has recorded R2.6-billion in pledges.
“We thank each individual, business and charitable foundation for their generous donations over the past few weeks. We have used their contributions to make critical interventions in the areas of healthcare, humanitarian relief as well as mobilising South Africans to drive a united response to the pandemic. Each rand will continue to be used with one goal in mind – to help South Africans survive the threat of Covid-19,” said Nqweni.