Non-pharmaceutical interventions to be intensified in fight against Covid-19

31st July 2020 By: Yvonne Silaule - Contributor

Non-pharmaceutical interventions to be intensified in fight against Covid-19

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.