Parliament, Thursday, 7 January 2021 – The Portfolio Committee on Health received a briefing today from the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, on the status of healthcare services in the provinces in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic and on the latest developments, including the rollout strategy of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Briefing the committee, Dr Mkhize said, the majority of the new cases reported in the past 24-hours originate from KwaZulu-Natal and the province accounted for 30.9% of all the new positive cases reported, followed by Gauteng 26.4%, Western Cape 17.2%, Limpopo 7.2%, Mpumalanga 5.0%, Eastern Cape 5.0%, North West 4.5%, Free State 2.0% and the Northern Cape 1.2%.
Dr Mkhize told the committee that the South African government will be the sole purchaser of the vaccines for the country. He said the Department of Health will contract with suppliers to purchase stock and allocate to the provincial departments of health and the private health sector.
The committee expressed its concern over the discrepancies in relation to the number of infections against the case fatality rate in the provinces. It told Dr Mkhize that it is worried about the differences, as there are high case fatality rates in some provinces as compared to others.
The committee noted from the presentation that Gauteng has a higher infection rate but a low case fatality rate. It urged the department to look into the issue of data accuracy and consistency urgently. Another matter which the committee said needs immediate attention is the clinical situation in the country regarding the provision of optimal treatment to all the patients in order to increase the rate of survival.
In welcoming the briefing, the committee appreciated the work that has been done by the department to date in securing vaccines which, according to the department, South Africa will be receiving the initial 1 000 000 doses of the first tranche of Covid-19 vaccines in January and 500 000 doses in February from the Serum Institute of India.
It called on the department to strengthen its communication strategies to ensure that communities are educated about the pandemic and measures that they need to take when diagnosed, and it said it is that communication drive which will inevitably dispel certain inaccuracies.
Furthermore, the committee welcomed that Dr Mkhize wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly to make an executive statement on the topic. The committee also expressed its concern over the delays in the procurement of the vaccines and agreed to take full responsibility on the oversight of the procurement of the vaccine nevertheless.
The committee has asked the department for regular updates on the developments regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and on the vaccine rollout strategy.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON HEALTH, DR SIBONGISENI DHLOMO.
For media enquiries or interviews with the Chairperson, please contact the committee’s Media Officer:
Name: Ms Yoliswa Landu
Parliamentary Communication Services
Tel: 021 403 8203
Cell: 081 497 4694
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