Mkhize: No need for provinces to buy their own vaccines
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said there was no need for provinces to buy the Covid-19 vaccines, as the national government had procured them centrally for the whole country.
Instead, the provinces should get their resources ready in terms of logistics, and also provide and adequately train their staff.
“There is no need for provinces to buy their own vaccines. If they did, that would amount to fruitless and wasteful expenditure,” Mkhize said.
Mkhize made the statement in response to questions while he was briefing the health portfolio committee.
He said all vaccines each province needed had been calculated in the total number to be procured.
“As the national government, we bought on behalf of the country, after having calculated the needs of the provinces,” Mkhize said.
Mkhize said procurement of vaccines had needed certain deviations from the National Treasury, something that had been arranged with his department.
The minister also said there was no need to worry about contingencies, and that this has been communicated to the Western Cape provincial administration.
“We made it clear that all their needs were catered for, and there was no need for a shortfall,” he said about a meeting with Premier Alan Winde and Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo .
“The amounts we order are such that they are contingent on their own. We have to wait for batches to be distributed, and every province will get as many as possible,” he said.
Mkhize insisted that provinces should rather bolster their resources in logistics and ensure adequate training and provision of staff for the roll out of the vaccinations.
“The last thing to have is vaccines sitting in the fridges,” he said, adding that vaccines should be administered to people without delay.
The minister defended the government’s decision to give the public five days, including a weekend, to comment on the regulations establishing the No-Fault Compensation Fund.
Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma published the regulations on April 15, and the deadline for submissions was April 19.
Mkhize said they were going through discussions and consultation as they were not ready to publish in January, because there was not enough information.
“We gave five days notice for comment, (because) we needed to confirm to the manufacturers that when we start we will be able to get vaccine,” he said.
“We had an agreement that until April 30 we would have published information on the No Fault Compensation Fund, and that the fund be set up before April 30.
“We did not feel we needed to wait until the last day for manufacturers to wait before starting to release vaccines, to make sure everything is properly aligned,” Mkhize said.
It was hoped, through the publishing of the No Fault Compensation Fund regulations, that people would understand that they were protected, so that no one who was exposed to a risk were left without any form of redress.
“This has actually allowed for all vaccines to be able to come into the country, because the no fault compensation set up protects everyone, particularly our own people, in this regard,” Mkhize said.
However, people still wishing to make comments were welcome to do so.
“We will look at them and consider them, but obviously it will be a matter of whether they would have an impact in changing things already published.”
He thanked the South Africans that had submitted their comments, after the department obtained more than 13 000 responses within five days.
Mkhize indicated that even if the regulations were not released, the public would have been upset with the government.
“We plead for your understanding. The public has a right to comment, and they did comment. These comments are very important and they are the thrust of democracy.”
Mkhize told the MPs that the contracts with Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer were signed.