Health Minister Zweli Mkhize
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced that government would strengthen non-pharmaceutical interventions to reduce new Covid-19 infections.
Speaking during the national Covid-19 virtual conference hosted by the Department of Education on Friday, Mkhize said interventions would require collaboration with societal stakeholders.
“We have to intensify the non-pharmaceutical interventions and emphasize behavioural change to force a reduction of new Covid-19 infections in all provinces. As such, we have established a multi-sectoral Ministerial Advisory Committee which focuses on ground mobilisation for behavioural change,” he said.
Government is seeking collaboration with behavioural scientists, civil society, communities, traditional leaders, traditional healers, religious organisations, labour and other stakeholders that are able to effect change at a grassroots level.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health continues to struggle with bed capacity as the numbers of Covid-19 infections increase.
“We have now augmented our track and tracing functions to be supported by a digital system called COVIDConnect where users can interact with the health care system on a digital platform for case identification, tracking and tracing and referral to quarantine, isolation or hospitalisation,” Mkhize explained.
He acknowledged that challenges pertaining to personal protective equipment (PPE) were exacerbated by corruption and needed urgent attention.
There was also a need to fill health vacancies and recruit new staff, while additional ventilators and oxygen supply was also vital, said Mkhize, noting that the National Ventilator Programme would be important for this.
Mkhize said that it would be beneficial for South Africa to participate in trials such as the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trial for therapeutics and the ChAdOx1 trial in South Africa.
“Study for vaccine development is extremely important to position the country favourably for access to these tools when they become available on the market. It is for this reason we are investing a huge amount of resources to safeguard our future,” he said.