As the Covid-19 pandemic intensifies across South Africa and the country braces for an expected surge in hospital admissions, the Solidarity Fund has responded by approving an additional R405-million towards the purchase of critical healthcare equipment for the public hospital system in the hotspots of Gauteng, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape.
Working in close collaboration with the National Department of Health (NDoH), as well as senior officials at provincial level, the Solidarity Fund has approved funding for a comprehensive list of essential equipment, including additional hospital beds, ventilators and high-flow oxygen devices.
The national health response is being phased in and coordinated across the provinces in line with projected demand for health services.
These are based on the epidemiological modelling of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in each of these provinces.
The strategy involves the activation of additional hospital beds at various acuity levels, as well as the provision of field hospital capacity, through both the reallocation of existing resources and the procurement of additional resources.
The projected demand is for more than 100 000 general ward beds and over 26 000 critical care beds at the peak of the pandemic in the country.
For Gauteng, the Solidarity Fund has approved R209-million for the purchase of critical medical equipment.
Given the projected peak of the pandemic and the high population density in the province, the funds will be used to buy high care equipment in existing hospitals and to equip the field hospital at Nasrec.
To assist hospitals in the Western Cape to better meet demand, R120-million has been approved for the acquisition of more hospital beds, as well as intensive care unit (ICU) ventilators across the province.
The fund has also approved R76-million for the Eastern Cape where there is insufficient general ward and ICU capacity and an urgent need for oxygen devices, in particular.
The funds will be used to buy essential equipment, such as high-flow oxygen devices which are more cost effective than invasive ventilators. They have been used successfully in the province so far.
Further, the fund has approved R250-million for the local production of 20 000 non-invasive ventilators in support of the National Ventilator Project.
The locally manufactured ventilators are expected to be delivered at the end of August in line with the predicted infection peak.