23 July 2020
Thank you Honourable Chairperson of the session
Ministers and Deputy Ministers present
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee
Thank you for the opportunity to address you today. I would like to start my input by expressing my heartfelt condolences to all those who have lost their loved ones to COVID-19 in South Africa and in the world. What remains important during these trying times is the need to cultivate the South African spirit of invincibility to soldier on especially in the memory of our former President Tata Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
COVID-19 has created an opportunity for introspection as individuals, as a society and those who are in leadership positions. This virus has stretched the resources in our facilities, in our emergency services and human resources as health care personnel. It has exposed the chronic underspending on our health care system and underfunding of Health infrastructure. It has laid bare the inequalities in our health care system. This experience teaches us to do more with the little resources we have and learn to reprioritise.
We wish to take this opportunity to commend the ANC-led Government and its initiatives taken to “flatten the curve” of infection so that our health system would be better able to care for the large number of people who would be needing care.
The ANC notes the PPE supply chains have become severely constrained both globally as well as in South Africa. Limited imports and shortages of raw materials adversely affected local production. Through the generosity of donations made by South Africans, the Solidarity Fund was able to commit a total R815 million towards procurement of urgently needed PPE’s for South Africa. The country also received generous donations of PPE from several countries, foundations, businesses and Churches.
The strategy employed by the National Department of Health in keeping with the World Health Organisation guidance of the actions in the eight (8) stages interventions is commendable. Prioritising National, Provincial and Municipal level budgets to support the interventions that are set out by the World Health Organisation guidelines is necessary for us to be able to tackle this pandemic. We do understand that there is huge pressure on the fiscus to provide all the resources to tackling COVID-19 pandemic. We also note the close relationship of the National Department of Health with the private health sector, which is also commendable. In echoing the sentiments of Minister Zweli Mkhize when he was addressing the UWC community:
“what we most deserve as a nation, is to come out of this with a legacy of advancing the ideals of Universal Health Coverage”.
And indeed, this pandemic has begun to put the building blocks for the National Health Insurance (NHI). We must look back at COVID-19 and say: “indeed, relations were strengthened in health systems”.
The ANC commends the initiatives undertaken by the National Department of Health to increase its testing capacity and improve the turnaround time. Among the initiatives that the ANC-led Government has pursued together with other countries on our continent is the ground-breaking Africa Medical Supplies Portal. This is a single continental marketplace where African countries can access critical medical supplies, such as test kits, from suppliers and manufacturers in Africa and around the world in the necessary quantities and at competitive prices. This platform will complement the work that is being done to ensure that the ANC-led Government has the medical equipment, personal protective equipment and hospital facilities to manage the anticipated increase in COVID-19 patients.
In closing, let me say that COVID-19 is the new normal that we are all waking up to in this country and many parts of the world. Please can I echo the words of the President and the Minister of Health that we all need to take necessary precautions, was your hands, sanitise, wear masks and keep social distance. This requires great patience, consistency and perseverance. We have to choose a public representation if we are going to be part of keeping the ship steady or help it to tip over as the storm clouds grow stronger. We have to encourage those around us to choose the collective path of saving lives, and preserving livelihoods, and weather the storm of the pandemic.
The ANC wishes to express its unwavering support for the Supplementary Budget for the Department of Health.
I thank you.