By Andile Mngxitama
Do you know that there are about 1000 Clinical Associates holding three years degrees from such tertiary institutions like Wits University and the University of Port Elizabeth (UPE) that graduate with comprehensive knowledge and practical experience of local circumstances?
Did you also know that these health professionals who provide service in district hospitals to address human resource constraints and who are each part of a district level collaborative clinical team which includes doctors and primary healthcare nurses – are rendered irrelevant by government and inept by health professional associates and the Medical and Dental Board?
These health professionals who could provide emergency care; perform in-patient care as well as diagnostic and therapeutic procedures; conduct consultations, physical examinations and counseling; and prescribe medicines up to Schedule 4 Drugs, now for reasons unbeknown to all, can’t even prescribe Panado without a doctor counter signing. So they could previously prescribe medicines like Xanax; Soma; Darvon; Darvocet; Valium; Ativan; Talwin.; and Ambien – and now they can’t even prescribe a simple painkiller?
This undermines the very essence of dealing with the shortages of doctors. Why do we allow this to happen to us?
In the open letter Black First Land First (BLF) is writing to President Cyril Ramaphosa, we shall include the call to let the Clinical Associates do their work and allow them to prescribe up to Schedule 4 Drugs.
One of the Clinical Associates has raised some important questions from the coal face:
“Mr Andile Mngxitama What Do You Suggest? What Should the government do? Few Weeks I Intubated a Patient that Needed an ICU bed but we Couldn’t Get For 3 hours I’ve Stopped Seeing Patients Trying to Find an ICU bed, If with the Current Health System Structure We Can’t Manage Our Own Patients What Will Happen to Covid-19 patients? Tell Us What To do Instead of Just Showing Us The Problems, Check Your Inbox, I’ve texting without a Response.”
My inbox is a mess, so I often miss messages. I have now given the matter full attention. We shall also write to the Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, on the plight of these health professionals.
Andile Mngxitama is the President of Black First Land First (BLF), a radical black consciousness organization.