Personal protective equipment on display during a staff training session on how to put on and remove PPE to avoid being infected or transmitting coronavirus. File picture: Jon Super/AP
Personal protective equipment on display during a staff training session on how to put on and remove PPE to avoid being infected or transmitting coronavirus. File picture: Jon Super/AP

Treasury says departmental PPE orders too small for consideration

By LOYISO SIDIMBA Time of article published Apr 17, 2020

Share this article:

National Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane has laid bare the government's struggles to secure supplies of the much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers at the forefront of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mogajane told accounting officers and authorities of government departments, state institutions, heads of provincial treasuries and municipalities that orders from individual government institutions were too small to be urgently manufactured and imported, hence the need for a countrywide approach when ordering health products from local and global suppliers.

"The decentralised system of procurement in South Africa has seriously impaired the ability of any entity or company to successfully order and receive critical health products required to fight Covid-19, including PPE,” Mogajane said.

The struggles admitted by Mogajane follow a number of health workers, in both the private and public sectors, testing positive for the deadly coronavirus, prompting the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) to demand that employers supply quality PPE and provide sufficient training on infection control and the handling of Covid-19 cases.

Mogajane said the orders had crippled the process of placing orders and procuring products on the scale required to support mass testing and treatment initiatives.

"It is important that government sets the maximum price per product it will pay. In the current disaster environment, which is more akin to a war situation, with serious shortages and where rationing and price controls may be required, it is important the government invokes emergency procurement provisions,” he said.

According to Mogajane, a central implementing agent has been appointed to provide a system for the procuring, warehousing and distribution of PPE, to manage the procurement process amid export bans by some countries, price gouging, the depreciation and volatility of the rand, as well as the demand for up-front payments and the challenge of immediately delivering stock to the country.

The government has joined hands with the private sector for a central procurement strategy and to engage the services of Tshwane-based Imperial Health Sciences (IHS) as the central implementing agent to utilise its logistical expertise and capabilities on a non-profit basis.

Treasury's office of the chief procurement officer and the Department of Health have established a procurement team to ensure that there is proper segregation of duties and no conflict of interest between the government, IHS and service providers.

The government will be using the Solidarity Fund to buy PPE in bulk. The fund will absorb the negative margin for PPE that is above the prices the National Treasury has set.

Denosa has indicated that it has been receiving disturbing complaints from nurses about being discouraged from wearing PPE in some facilities, allegedly because they scared patients.

Political Bureau

Share this article:

Related Articles