The Solidarity Fund reports that the first batch of ventilators, initially earmarked for delivery at the end of August, have been delivered ahead of schedule.
In early July, the fund approved the additional funding of R405-million to go towards the purchase of critical healthcare equipment for the public hospital system in the hotspots of Gauteng, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape.
This was in response to the expected surge in hospital admissions caused by Covid-19 that was predicted to peak in late August.
A further R250-million was approved for the local production of up to 20 000 non-invasive continuous positive airway pressure ventilators in support of the National Ventilator Project.
Locally and globally, medical institutions have struggled to find and supply the necessary equipment to treat Covid-19 patients and ventilators have been high on their list of critical equipment.
To meet the inevitable demand for this life-saving equipment, and in anticipation of a global shortage, the government set up the National Ventilator Project with the aim of rapidly facilitating the local development and manufacture of thousands of non-invasive ventilators.
The Solidarity Fund has worked closely with the project and the national government to ensure that South Africa does not face the same shortages as other countries have while treating Covid-19, the fund says.
“As we traverse the predicted peak of the Covid-19 infection in South Africa, it is important that we accelerate our efforts to arm the medical practitioners with the equipment that they need.
"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,” says Solidarity Fund interim CEO Nomkhita Nqweni.
Non-invasive ventilators form an essential component in the management of Covid-19 for patients with mild-to-moderate respiratory failure, and free up intubation ventilators for the more critical patients.
Dr Oliver Smith, who will be receiving 35 of the first batch of the close to 1 000 ventilators in the process of delivery on behalf of Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, says 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.”
Charlotte Maxeke is one of about 60 medical facilities across the country that have received ventilators as part of the first batch distributed.