Johannesburg - The DA has unequivocally rejected the draft regulations to the National Health Act published last week in the government gazette.
DA spokesperson on health Michele Clarke said the set of regulations, if passed, have the potential to gravely transgress the rights of patients, saying essentially, it was the ANC government’s way of clinging to power by extending the State of Disaster permanently through legislation.
“The regulations, which are currently open to public participation, seek to not only regulate when a person has contracted a notifiable medical condition, they also regulate persons who are suspected to have contracted said conditions from a list of conditions. Worryingly, the regulations pave the way for patients to be forced to submit to medical examination, which may include providing any bodily sample.
“These patients – or suspected patients – may also be forced into a quarantine facility or isolation site and be forced to mandatory prophylaxis, treatment, isolation or quarantine.
“These regulations also attempt to give more powers to medical practitioners (or such persons authorised to act as one) to provide instruction or direction in this regard,” Clarke said.
She said this was especially worrying given there were many qualified doctors and nurses in South Africa, yet, the ANC government was quick to disregard them and import medical practitioners from other countries who may not have the necessary qualifications that were on par with the standard South African regulatory codes.
“There are also questions that pose a practical nightmare for local governments. The regulations enforce that quarantine facilities should be determined collectively and managed by the Department of Health, provincial departments of Health, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure and municipalities.
“With the shortage in nursing staff and ill-equipped facilities in a number of provinces, the DA cannot see how any patient would be accommodated in adequate medical quarantine or isolation facilities.
“Patients, or those suspected to have been in contact with someone carrying said condition, may only self-isolate if they do so in a facility that complies with criteria, have the support of a friend or family member that may drop off food or medicine (alternatively make use of online shopping), have access to the internet and a phone for daily reporting of symptoms and have access to a private physician,” she said.
Clarke said it was therefore evident that self-isolation or self-quarantine, under these draft regulations, was to become a costly exercise that placed a further burden on especially the poor and vulnerable in society.