The Western Cape has procured two surgical robots at a cost of R80 million as the province is said to be battling with over 77 000 backlogs in surgeries.
While making a presentation to the Parliament portfolio committee on health on Wednesday, Dr Nonhlanhla Makhanya said there were 175 000 surgical backlogs in the country, which had been building up over the past two-and-a-half years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
She said the Western Cape was leading with 77 139 backlogs in surgeries, followed by Limpopo with 45 690. KwaZulu-Natal had about 17 906 and Free State had only 2 847.
Makhanya said the total number of backlogs received from provinces was for June to August this year.
As part of an intervention, the Western Cape has allocated an additional R20 million from the internal prioritisation of funds to deal with backlogs. The province has also procured two surgical robots at a cost of R80 million, as this will reduce the recovery time and allow patients to be discharged earlier.
The department of health made a presentation to the portfolio committee about Covid-19, vaccines, health regulations, monkeypox, and the operations backlog.
Makhanya said key surgical disciplines that were affected in all the provinces were orthopaedic, obstetrical and gynaecology, general surgery, ophthalmology, urology, oncology, cardio-thoracic and plastic surgery.
"There was a moratorium on all elective surgeries to accommodate an influx of patients due to Covid-19 and this has already impacted the increased numbers of backlogs. The moratorium on elective surgeries was, however, lifted in 2021 and a plan to accelerate backlogs was put in place, as well as measures to deal with emergency surgeries and electives concurrently.
"The hospitals have rescheduled all non-emergency operations and are providing theatre services during the weekends and extended hours to reduce backlogs, which also include an increase in theatre times," Makhanya said.
She added most provinces were now recruiting specialists to increase output and mentioned that in Gauteng, an electronic booking system had been introduced. Also, a clinical manager had been appointed to oversee all 46 theatre efficiencies.
"In this province, we have re-purposed Covid-19 wards to increase post-operative care spaces and theatres have been renovated to increase the number of functional theatres. A contractor had been appointed for the repair and maintenance of autoclaves. There are also contractors who have been sourced to repair and maintain tunnel washers."
She said in KwaZulu-Natal, no new dates were given but electives were called back according to priority and bed availability.
Whereas in Mpumalanga, October has been planned for an ophthalmology marathon, and a recruitment process for a general surgeon was also under way.