Following recent events that saw more than 30 attacks on health workers in the last eight months, the Western Cape Health Department has launched Operation Khuseleka. The operation is a staff safety initiative that’s directed at encouraging operation within broader society to keep health workers safe.
Speaking to VOC, spokesperson for the Western Cape Minister of Health, Luyanda Mfeka, said the campaign is in partnership with all the health sectors in the Western Cape sector that plan to work together in order to reach out to communities. They hope this would yield positive results for the various objectives set out by the operation.
“Our health workers don’t only help work in our health institutions, they work within communities themselves and are often exposed to dangerous elements in communities while they try to work and provide a service,” says Mfeka.
Therefore it is important for us as community members to try and assist where we can and make it possible for them to deliver quality service for us.
Extensive engagements are ongoing with the South African Police Service, Community Police Forums, the Department of Community Safety and various other safety organisations. Mfeka said partners supply our teams with real-time information and intelligence about the situation on the ground in all areas. This arrangement remains in place and EMS teams have the option to call for assistance, or may opt to wait for a situation to be normalised prior to entering an unsafe area.
“In cases where the situation in an area is deemed too unsafe for our staff, patients are informed that the response will be delayed due to safety concerns. The impact on our EMS response times, however, may cause life-saving services to be delayed – which is why we require maximum support from communities, police, and other community safety groupings,” said Mfeka.
“Improved safety technology on our ambulances includes consoles which contain tracking devices and other security features. The addition of this technology has assisted in crews being quickly assisted in emergency situations. There have also been 10 successful arrests made this year, due to the technology and help from the community.”
The Department also runs an extensive internal programme of support to its health workers. This includes counselling services, support for medical injuries, active 24/7 management support and increased internal communication to keep staff informed.
On Monday, a symbolic walk was held by representatives of various stakeholders to show solidarity for staff. Participants of the walk included health workers, community members, hospital management, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff, officials, professional bodies and education partners.
“We’re planning to do a number of those in various communities,” says Mfeka when asking to comment on the symbolic walk.
“It is intended to create a sense of visibility, to create a sense of awareness about the safety of health workers and then to use that as a springboard to make connections within communities.”
Mfeka said knowledge and intelligence is one of the key factors that is relied on to ensure the safety of health care staff. When criminal activity takes place, it is important that people within communities tip-off the police in order to pro-actively combat the problem.
“It is always possible to go on the Western Cape website where we have a please call me line, an e-mail address and a hotline where we can be contacted directly.”
Visit https://www.westerncape.gov.za for more information. VOC (Imran Salie)