Portfolio Committee on Health welcomes the allocation of the COVID-19 budget

The Chairman of the Health Portfolio Committee, Dr Sibongeseni Dhlomo, welcomed the government’s 2021 fiscal spending plans announced by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni at the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Minister Mboweni said in his 2021 budget speech the government will allocate R 10.3 billion to purchase and deliver vaccines to combat the spread of Covid-19 in the next two years.

Welcoming the announcement, Dr. Dhlomo said the budget allocation will help implement the vaccine programme as the country approaches 50,000 COVID-19 related deaths.

“When oversight is in place, hold the executive accountable, and the committee will make sure that the money is being spent appropriately,” said Dr. Dhlomo.

In support of the government’s drive to vaccinate 67 percent of South Africa’s population, the National Treasury will inject 9 billion rand into the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program, SAnews.gov.za reported on Wednesday.

In the medium term, 9 billion rand has been earmarked for the launch of the vaccine. Of this amount, the Ministry of Health allocates 6.5 billion rand to purchase and distribute vaccines. SAnews.gov.za reported on Wednesday.

Hundred million rand will be transferred to the South African Medical Research Council for vaccine research.

With South Africa recording more than 1.5 million infections, and more than 50,000 deaths, the cash injection would be a welcome relief to the country’s vaccination programme.

“The government has set aside R 1.3 billion this year for the purchase of vaccines. Given the uncertainty about the final costs, an estimated R9 billion could be drawn from contingency reserves and contingency allocations, bringing the total potential funding for the vaccination programme to approximately R 19.3 billion,” the government said.

In the budget review, the Treasury Department acknowledged that vaccines will play a pivotal role in saving lives and livelihoods, and supporting economic recovery.

“Ensuring access to COVID-19 vaccines is the immediate priority for the government. As the Minister of Health announced in January 2021, the three-stage vaccine launch strategy in South Africa aims to vaccinate 67 percent of the population over a 12-month period,” stated the document.

The National Treasury has confirmed that access to vaccines will be provided free of charge, according to need and vaccination schedule.

“The purchase and launch of the vaccine are funded from the national budget. Since the state purchases vaccines on behalf of both the public and private sectors, some of the revenues will return to the province when private service providers purchase vaccines from the state,” reads the document.

The ministry said that over 12 months, provincial health departments will allocate R 2.4 billion to administer vaccines, while the government communication and information system will receive R50 million for a linked communications campaign.

Allocations for national departments are ring-fenced. Additional allocations are made through the COVID-19 component of the HIV, Tuberculosis, Malaria, and Community Outreach Awareness Grant presented in the June 2020 Special Amendments Budget, “as stated in the document. – SAnews.gov.za

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