President Cyril Ramaphosa
Last night Black First Land First (BLF) received a complaint from its Treasurer General, Comrade Thandiswa Yaphi, who in the maternity ward of Baragwanath Hospital awaiting, with several other expectant mothers, about the unfortunate conditions that they are currently faced with. Many of patients in the maternity ward are awaiting to be allocated a bed (since Friday on her part) so that the process of child birth can be induced. She reached full-term pregnancy of 40 weeks over a week ago.
We are further informed that the pregnant patients at the the hospital have been placed in quarantine for being exposed to the Covid-19 virus after a woman had tested positive for the infection. This is understandable to lessen the risk of spreading the virus.
The problem is that there’s no plans in place generally to secure the needed beds, staff and supplies more so in public healthcare facilities to address the challenges in the maternity wards. And
evidently this is precisely the case with the maternity ward in Baragwanath Hospital.
The hospital lacks the necessary facilities to accommodate the pregnant women and new born babies. Women in the maternity ward have been sleeping on benches for 2 consecutive nights, with 4 stretchers being provided on the third night. To compound matters, frontline workers who have been exposed to the virus at the maternity ward have gone on strike for fear of spreading it. The patients are consequently left to fend for themselves.
There is generally a huge lack of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers (like nurses) who consequently together with the patients are nakedly exposed to the risk of contracting the virus.
Moreover public healthcare facilitates like the Baragwanath Hospital are understaffed (including the maternity wards) to respond appropriately to the challenges during the coronavirus crisis. There is further a lack of counseling support for both frontline workers and patients regarding maternity matters.
President Ramaphosa, in his COVID-19 R500 billion stimulus package announcement, gave nothing towards effectively increasing the capacity in healthcare facilities so as to deal with maternity issues during the period of the Covid-19 pandemic. Furthermore, frontline workers (especially nurses) who are required to see to patients without the necessary protection and relief are laying down their tools. All this is to the immediate detriment of the patients including newborns in maternity wards who are thrust into a state of despair and vulnerability.
BLF has been trying in vain to get the intervention of the Gauteng MEC for Health via the numbers +27 74 054 3826 and 011 933 9837 since last night – to secure the protection for the women and newborn babies.
We now call on President Ramaphosa to immediately address crisis in the maternity wards, especially in Baragwanath Hospital. We demand that:
1. All pregnant women be given beds.
2. Additional staff be deployed to attend to patients in the maternity wards.
3. Testing for the Covid-19 virus be conducted without delay on all those exposed to the virus.
4. Frontline workers be given adequate PPE.
5. Government acts ethically to save lives.
Issued by Black First Land First, National Coordinating Committee of (BLF NCC)
18 May 2020
Black First Land First Mail: [email protected]
(BLF Deputy President)
Cell: +27 79 986 7225