South Africa: Stavros Nicolaou - South Africa's Mr Ventilator

analysis

The go-to guy for crucial medical equipment warns of a triple threat in South Africa - flu, Covid-19 and an HIV/AIDS drugs shortage.

To stock up a country's pharmacies and hospitals and to ensure that healthcare workers have the protective equipment needed for the next phase of Covid-19 in South Africa, you need a trader with steel-tipped elbows to buy in a global market where more than 180 countries are vying for shrinking piles of essentials.

For that task, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has Aspen Pharmacare executive Stavros Nicolaou on speed-dial, as the person with his eye on the electronic dashboard of drugs, equipment and protective gear stocks. He comes across as someone you don't want to tangle with over that remaining ventilator and consignment of masks - a streetfighter and an organiser.

Mkhize and Nicolaou speak every two days as the nation's doctor catches up on the pipeline of essentials that the system will need.

On March 5, South Africa had its first case and by April 7, this had risen to 1,749 confirmed cases, 13 deaths and infections recorded in every province. Nicolaou knows his way around an infectious disease outbreak. He is a lifer at Aspen and...

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