NEW RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING URGENT AND NON-URGENT PATIENT CARE: A STATEMENT FROM THE SOUTH AFRICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the South African Medical Association advises that all Surgeons should consider providing only emergency care.
The COVID -19 pandemic is projected to kill thousands of South Africans if left unchecked. Public health experts propose the following measures as matter of urgency:
First, we must mitigate the risk of the SARS-CoV-2 transmission from human to human which will retard the rate of new cases. In the absence of a vaccine, this is the only way to “flatten the curve” and minimize outstripping the limited healthcare resources such as hospitals and ICU beds. As a nation, we must embark on coordinated and integrated initiatives that utilize the limited available resources for the benefit of the greater community.
Second, COVID-19 is now in every province and the number of new cases is currently doubling every 1-2 days. It is therefore essential that as medical professionals we do what we can to minimize the spread and contain COVID-19. The window of opportunity to contain the pandemic in South Africa is rapidly closing and extraordinary measures required of us all to protect ourselves and the greater community. The South African Medical Association therefore strongly recommends that all Physicians/Surgeons provide only urgent or emergent care. This includes both office-based care and surgical care. Each of us has a societal responsibility to not function as a vector of a potentially fatal disease for vulnerable populations.
All other factors—business, finance, inconvenience, etc.—are secondary at this stage. This is an existential crisis. As a profession, we must respond to it in a manner that supports our colleagues and our communities.