The South African government will pay more than R239 million in salaries for the 187 members of the Cuban medical brigade, who, according to Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize, are specialists in areas in which South Africa has shortages.

DA MP Siviwe Gwarube asked for more information on the Cuban doctors, who arrived in South Africa to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic amid much fanfare on 27 April.

“To date, the Republic of Cuba has availed 187 medical specialists, who will be assisting South Africa in the response to Covid-19,” reads Mkhize’s response.

He added that they are specialists in areas that the country is unable to produce enough capacity in.

“These are qualified in biostatisticians, epidemiologists, family physicians and health technologists,” he said.

The contingent includes the following:

116 family physicians, whose salaries total R172 767 798;

32 health technologists, whose salaries total R25 941 166;

18 epidemiology technologists, whose salaries total R14 715 735;

13 biostatisticians, whose salaries total R19 566 449;

5 biomedical engineers, whose salaries total R2 773 887;

2 public health specialists, whose salaries total R2 231 276; and

1 nurse, whose salary is R528 852.

This brings the total salaries to R239 181 933.

“The estimated budget cost is informed by actual appointment levels of the Cuban Health Brigade as determined by their Registration category, which took into consideration years of experience. All the Family Physicians and Biostatisticians are appointed at Grade 2 of Medical Officer level and Epidemiology Technologists/ Health Technology and Public Health Specialists are at Deputy Director level while Biomedical Engineers are at ASD level,” reads Mkhize’s explanation on how the salaries were calculated.