Port Elizabeth – To better equip the healthcare facilities in Nelson Mandela Bay in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) has provided protective gear to the provincial Department of Health for frontline workers at healthcare institutions across the metro.
The personal protective equipment (PPE), which was handed over to the Department today, includes:
The PPE will be distributed to staff at the three main Covid-19 hospitals in the Metro, which are Dora Nginza Hospital, Livingstone Hospital and Uitenhage Provincial Hospital, as well as other regional Primary Care Clinics and Covid-19 test centres.
VWSA also handed over 200 Digital Infrared Thermometers, 150 Portable finger-tip pulse oximeters and 40 stand-alone tabletop pulse oximeters, which are critical medical equipment for the assessment and treatment of Covid-19 patients.
VWSA procured the protective equipment as part of their greater project to convert its former Port Elizabeth plant into the Rev. Dr Elizabeth Mamisa Chabula-Nxiweni Field Hospital. The first phase of this hospital for Covid-19 patients was handed over to the Department on 23 June. Funding for both the hospital and the protective equipment was provided by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), which committed R100 million to the project, implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. R10 million of this funding was used for protective equipment.
“Our frontline healthcare workers are in dire need of the PPE in order to feel safe and be able to do their work, which is to provide care and save the lives of our people. It is our wish that this PPE will bring relief and hope to our healthcare workers who have been toiling under difficult circumstances to treat the Covid-19 patients,” said VWSA Chairman and Managing Director Thomas Schaefer.
Using R4 million of the funding from the BMZ, VWSA also supported the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) branch in Port Elizabeth. This laboratory is responsible for the majority of Covid-19 testing in the metro, with a current testing capacity of around 1 500 tests per day.
VWSA assisted the NHLS by performing extensive renovations to turn an open office space into a fully-fledged Molecular Virology laboratory in the space of 18 days. The company also analysed and recommended improvements to the NHLS’s testing processes to increase efficiency. With a full staff complement, these improvements would increase the testing capacity to over 3 000 tests a day, thereby more than doubling the current daily testing capacity.
“We need to be able to trace the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic to fight it - the faster we act, the better we can keep it from spreading further,” said Schaefer. “That is why it is absolutely crucial for the NHLS to have the capability to analyse tests and deliver results quickly.”
“As VWSA we are proud to be able to contribute our expertise and assist the NHLS in optimising their processes to reach this capacity. We are also grateful to the German government, who made these improvements possible. We will keep supporting those who lead the fight against Covid-19 wherever possible.”
The Premier of the Eastern Cape, Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane, said the provincial government was grateful to VWSA for its continuous contribution to the fight against Covid-19. “The donation of PPE and testing resources are giving us a shot in the arm as we continue with saving the lives of our people,” said Mabuyane. “We appreciate the contribution by VWSA because they are contributing to the work being done by the collective. As we are fighting this virus together, we will continue to support many people to recover from infections.”
“The impressive recovery numbers we are seeing in the Eastern Cape are made possible by contributions from companies like VWSA, the health workers in our health system, and members of the public who comply with the Covid-19 precautions and prevention measures. We must continue fighting the virus by protecting each other. This investment will benefit the health workers who are on the frontline against this pandemic and will help bolster our testing capabilities, so that we can provide healthcare to those who need it after testing positive.”