During the past year, we have focused on accelerating our vaccine rollout.
So far, we have administered 30 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Consequently, nearly 42% of all adults and 60% of everyone over 50 is fully vaccinated.
We are now ready to enter a new phase in our management of the pandemic.
It is our intention to end the national state of disaster as soon as we have finalised other measures under the National Health Act and other legislation to contain the pandemic.
Nearly all restrictions on economic and social activity have already been lifted.
Vaccines have proven to be the best defence we have against illness and death from COVID-19.
If we all get vaccinated, continue to observe basic health measures and remain ever vigilant, we will be able to get on with our lives even with the virus in our midst.
The state of the nation is linked inextricably to the state of our economy.
In addition to the divides of race, geography and education, COVID-19 has exacerbated the divide between those who are employed and unemployed.
We will continue to pursue Africa’s health sovereignty, working with other African countries and international partners to support the strengthening of the continent’s capacity to respond to pandemics.
We will increase our efforts to develop Africa’s ability to manufacture vaccines.
We have made significant progress here in South Africa.
We now have two South African companies – Aspen and Biovac – with contracts to produce COVID-19 vaccines. Two additional vaccine projects have also been announced.
In addition, we have full local production capability for ventilators, hand sanitisers, medical-grade face masks and gloves and therapeutic drugs and anaesthetics.
This production capability worth many billions of rands of production annually, has been put in place in less than two years.
Even as the country was suffering the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies and individuals were conspiring with public officials to defraud the government of billions of rands in COVID-related contracts.
As soon as evidence emerged of this corruption we acted.
We withdrew certain emergency procurement regulations, set up a fusion centre that brought together various law enforcement agencies, published the details of all COVID-related contracts online and instituted the most extensive investigation that the Special Investigating Unit has undertaken since its formation.
In December, the SIU submitted its final report on its investigation into COVID-related contracts.
As a result, 45 matters, with a combined value of R2.1 billion, have been enrolled with the Special Tribunal.
The SIU has referred 224 government officials for disciplinary action and referred 386 cases for possible prosecution to the NPA.
The Presidency has set up mechanisms to monitor implementation of the recommendations of the SIU and ensure that government departments and entities act against those who have violated regulations and broken the law.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has starkly demonstrated, a nation’s health is inextricably linked with its economic progress and social development.
We will therefore continue with the work underway to ensure universal health coverage for everyone in South Africa, regardless of their ability to pay.
While public hearings on the National Health Insurance Bill are continuing in Parliament, much progress is being made in preparing for the introduction of NHI.
More than 59 million people are registered in the Health Patient Registration System.
By September 2021, more than 56,000 additional health workers had been recruited and more than 46,000 community health workers integrated into the public health system.