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Health Workers Demand Protective Gear

Article by Khanyi Moshia

South African health workers have threatened to down their tools due to the lack of protective gear when dealing with Covid-19. With the support of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU), health workers refuse to further endanger their lives by helping fight this fatal virus – until the Department of Health provides them with protective gear and equipment to carry out their duties safely. 

Health minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize said the government couldn’t provide private institution workers with safety gear – due to a shortage of stock, but that has left many people worried as they’re in the forefront of dealing with Covid19 cases. 

NEHAWU has advised its members not to work if they haven’t been given any protective gear, and that decision was supported by Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) as they emphasize that the safety of the workers is non-negotiable. 

Not only did health workers threaten to down their tools, but NEHAWU also filed for urgent court papers against the Department of Health over the shortage of protective gear and equipment for its members. 

The list of items needed by healthcare workers include the following: 

  • plastic aprons
  • Masks 
  • Latex-free gloves 
  • Googles
  • Visors
  • Medical gowns
  • Suits, and 
  • Overshoes 

NEHAWU spokes person Ayanda Zulu said the union supports the interventions suggested by the government but healthcare workers must be met halfway, as they cannot endanger their own lives in the process of fighting Covid-19. 

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