The South African Military Health Service (SAMHS) is now deployed at 49 hospitals in all provinces other than the Western Cape. The military health service is today assisting patients at 11 hospitals in both Gauteng and Mpumalanga, five hospitals each in the North West and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), three in the Eastern Cape, six in Limpopo as well as the Free State and two in the Northern Cape.
The SAMHS, in its morning update says new deployments were made to the Embhuleni hospital in Mpumalanga and the Pretoria West Hospital in Gauteng, taking the number to 49 facilities versus 47 yesterday.
The Department of Defence’s head of communication, Siphiwe Dlamini has said that depending on the request, a medical team may consist of doctors, nurses and emergency health care practitioners known as “ops medics”. The SAMHS is also deploying personnel to assist with the cleaning of the hospitals.
Dlamini earlier this week said some 2800 military personnel – including some 1500 SAMHS medics – were deployed, with the remainder providing perimeter security and access control. Public service strikes in SA tend to be violent with intimidation and other acts of callousness common.
The current deployment is the third since June 2007. In June-July 2007, the SAMHS deployed about 2500 personnel to over 80 hospitals in all nine provinces during a bitter nurses’ strike. The effort, dubbed Operation Human/Bata, received great public acclaim at the time. In June-July last year, the SAMHS deployed over 500 medics as part of Operation Human/Bata 2 in KZN, Gauteng, the Free State, the North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.