Government’s pro bono organisation the Solidarity Fund on Friday announced that it had exceeded its target of providing food relief to 250 000 families across the country and had reached 300 000 families.
Owing to the success of the relief efforts, it will be piloting a number of more sustainable methods of food relief to vulnerable families outside of the social grant net.
Solidarity Fund CEO Nomkhita Nqweni said the target was reached without increasing the R120-million that was allocated to the intervention.
This will include food vouchers and cash systems for families that continue to experience severe food insecurity as a result of the continued economic disruption brought on by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The Solidarity Fund was formed in March and has so far received R2.7-billion in commitments and R2.26-billion in donations.
Nqweni said the humanitarian effort was starting to expand its interventions beyond food security as the Fund seeks to respond to the challenges coming out of the pandemic.
She said, following what the Fund termed ‘the first emergency phase’ over the past six weeks, it had continued to work towards responding to the different phases of the pandemic.
Board chairperson Gloria Serobe added that the Fund had approved R250-million for 400 000 Covid-19 testing kits to support increased testing for the deadly virus.
PHELOPHEPA TRAINS & VENTILATORS
She further highlighted the coordination between the Fund and Transnet Foundation’s Phelophepa Trains which were being used as mobile testing clinics and would help rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape via the foundation’s railway system.
The Phelophepa train I and II are designed to provide basic medical help and education. The initiative will gather and collect important information and data and give feedback to the National Command Centre.
Each train has 22 permanent staff, including nurses and healthcare educators.
Meanwhile, the Fund also approved R11.3-million to support the local manufacturing of two prototypes of non-invasive ventilators. This project aims to manufacture 10 000 ventilators by July – when infections are expected to peak – after the prototypes have passed the various phases.
PROCUREMENT OF PPE
Further, R905-million has been used to procure personal protective equipment (PPE). The Fund has secured nearly 80% of the surgical masks and 100% of the N95 masks needed for the weekly demand for healthcare workers until at least the end of June.
“Before the lockdown, 62% of all the medical equipment we used in South Africa was sourced from international markets and only 8% was locally produced; as we entered the lockdown period there was hardly any PPE available in South Africa because of supply chain constraints and this meant that we had to place a rapid response to secure the necessary stock. Within a month of formation, the Fund has approved a total of R905-million towards the procurement of PPE,” said Nqweni.
On Friday the Fund expects the arrival of the critical mass of PPE that was ordered and this would continue to be distributed in line with the Department of Health’s needs.
“The global supply and procurement of PPE has been extraordinarily difficult with almost every country in the world, not to mention businesses and citizens, trying to buy very limited stock. Prices moved daily, sometimes even hourly as suppliers struggled to meet the almost insatiable global demand,” said Nqweni.
Nqweni noted that in the initial emergency phase there was not enough local manufacturing capacity to meet the demand, but now more black-owned businesses and the activation of local manufacturing are starting to respond strongly.
“Following this first emergency phase of procurement we now have the systems and processes in place to procure more critical PPE and equipment from local manufacturers as they can produce in line with WHO [World Health Organisation] standards. We have more than 6 000 suppliers that have been registered on Business for South Africa’s database and platform,” she explained.