Steve Biko Hospital trauma data shows the impact of lockdown levels on healthcare system

According to Statistics South Africa, fewer than 1 in 5 South Africans were members of medical aids in 2018.
According to Statistics South Africa, fewer than 1 in 5 South Africans were members of medical aids in 2018.
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  • Steve Biko Hospital saw more than 100 cases in its trauma unit in June when the sale of alcohol was permitted.
  • The months of April and May saw fewer than 100 cases.
  • Professor Charles Parry of the SAMRC states that over eight weeks, the liquor ban would reduce alcohol-related trauma cases by 36% and all trauma cases by 18%.

Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Tshwane saw less than 100 cases in its trauma unit during April and May combined, before registering a marked spike in incidents during June, when lockdown regulations were eased under Level 3.

The cases related to gunshots, stabbings, motor vehicle accidents (involving buses and taxis), burns, passenger vehicle accidents, assaults, falls, cuts, motorbike accidents and other trauma incidents.

Statistics shared by the Gauteng health department showed that in June 2020, the hospital's trauma unit saw 124 cases - an increase of 66 cases from May, when the unit treated 58 people.

June marked the beginning of Level 3 of the lockdown strategy. The sale of alcohol was allowed, but the regulation was subsequently revoked earlier this month after overwhelming evidence showed that alcohol-related trauma cases were stretching the capacity of many health facilities which were already facing pressure due to increasing Covid-19 cases.

JUNE 2020

Motor vehicle accidents (MVA): 31

Passenger vehicle accidents (PVA):28

Train: 0

Motorbike accidents (MBA)10

Gunshot: 16

Sexual Assault: 0

Domestic Violence: 0

Human Bite: 3

Assault: 18

Stab Wound: 17

Mob Justice: 1

Total: 124

The month of May, which formed part of Level 4 of the lockdown saw a total of 58 cases in the trauma unit.

MAY 2020

MVA :17

PVA :10

Train : 0

MBA : 7

Gunshot: 6

Sexual Assault: 0

Domestic Violence: 0

Human Bite: 0

Assault: 14

Stab Wound :3

Mob Justice : 1

Total: 58

In April, during which the country was under Level 5 lockdown - saw little to no activity being permitted, in a bid to manage the spread of Covid-19 - a total of 26 cases were treated in the hospital's trauma unit, 32 fewer cases than in May, when the lockdown was lowered to Level 4.

Parliament recently heard how over eight weeks, a ban on liquor sales could potentially save the system from having to deal with around 50 000 trauma cases.

Professor Charles Parry of the South African Medical Research Council's (SAMRC) Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drug Research Unit briefed the Portfolio Committee on Health on the impact of alcohol on the country's health services.

He stated that over eight weeks, the liquor ban would reduce alcohol-related trauma cases by 36% and all trauma cases by 18%, News24 reported.

READ | Booze sales ban could save SA R1.3bn, enable treatment of up to 18 000 Covid-19 patients - Parliament hears

This was based on modelling which suggested that the "50 000 fewer trauma cases would lead to a saving of R1.3 billion, and would allow for almost 18 000 Covid-19 patients to be treated in general wards or about 13 000 in ICU wards".

"It will also have an impact on trauma presentations to primary healthcare facilities and private hospitals as well, this included trauma from gender-based violence.

"Less drinking is also likely to have an impact on reducing community transmission of Covid-19 and that, in turn, will decrease pressure on hospital facilities from Covid-19 patients (but that is harder to measure)," Parry told News24 on Thursday.

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