Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has launched an online service to link local manufacturers that produce personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and other much-needed resources, with national and provincial governments in an attempt to resource South Africa’s healthcare facilities with life-saving equipment.
Several reports today not only indicate chronic shortages of PPE, but also other essential resources such as testing and screening equipment across the country for our frontline health professionals. We have heard countless accounts of nurses, doctors and those who are working to test and treat Covid-19 patients having been left to fend for themselves in some areas due to the global shortage of material to manufacture PPE.
Examples of this include employees of Livingston Hospital, which is one of the two key testing and treatment sites in the Eastern Cape, downing tools due to the shortage of PPE. The Gauteng Health Department has, upon realization of the crisis, called for donations of PPE to their health facilities. This is because various facilities in the province do not have the basics such as gloves, masks, sanitizers and protective gowns. In addition, KwaZulu-Natal which has the 3rd highest number of infections and the most number of fatalities is hit hard by the shortages of PPE for critical frontline staff.
In the spirit of working together with the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, in the valiant fight against this pandemic, the DA wrote to him last week to make proposals for dealing with this catastrophic shortage. One of the key proposals was for the department to develop local manufacturing capacity for these critical products. We called on the Minister and his team to bring together manufacturing companies and give them the brief on the products that are most needed, have these approved by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and roll them out to provinces and facilities that need it most.
Already, the DA has secured through the DTI a zero duty rating on masks being imported into the country which is a welcome development. However this needs to be extended across more PPE lines. This will allow Government to import these goods to fill the immediate gap that currently exists while local suppliers are able to build up stock.
The Party has received thousands of offers from local manufacturers, distributors and suppliers of this equipment who are willing to work with the South African government to deal with this local shortage, and have requested ways in which they can be in touch with the Departments of Trade and Industry and Health in order to supply this much needed equipment.
What is becoming clearer each day is that there seems to be little coordination between Government departments in procuring this life saving equipment. That is why the DA has come forward with this online platform to gather information from potential manufactures and then make this information available to various governments, including the DA-run Western Cape Provincial Government.
Government’s response to this pandemic has largely been commendable, however, if we are to beat Covid-19 then we need to make sure that we protect our front-line staff in process. They are our greatest resource. That is why the DA is playing its part in these efforts to ensure that we make a contribution in this regard. The DA will once again write to the Minister of Health and his Director General to bring this platform to their attention. When South Africans from all sectors pull together in fighting this pandemic, it is only then that we will win.
The DA calls on all eligible manufacturers to contact us on the following website: https://www.da.org.za/supply-critical-goods.