With the Department of Health keeping mum on the logistics surrounding the supply and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines in the country, the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) has put forward suggestions on how government can safeguard against corruption.
This as the country is set to receive its first one million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport on Monday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa and his deputy David Mabuza are expected to take receipt of the vaccines.
SAAFF chairperson Juanita Maree said on Monday the association readily acknowledged that the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic had been exposed to bribery, cronyism, nepotism and embezzlement in the past, especially around the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE).
However, Maree said she had every reason to believe corruption could not only be avoided but stamped out entirely when it comes to the distribution of vaccines.
One of the ways to achieve this, according to Maree, was through the standard operating procedure (SOP), which was created by operators in the extended supply chain for the clearance process of international imports of the Covid-19 vaccines.
The SOP was being sent to the country’s partially state-owned vaccine manufacturer Biovac and Business for South Africa for adoption.
“Covered in the SOP is the scope, background, prerequisites and escalation information regarding the import processes,” Maree said in a statement.
She called for the monitoring of the end-to-end distribution chain once the vaccines arrived in South Africa, coupled with the creation of a dedicated tariff heading in order to monitor the export and transhipment cycles.
Maree also suggested risk-engine improvement once the vaccines reached the country.
But in order for the strategy to be effective, Maree says it is essential that adequate amounts of the vaccine are secured by government and that delays are avoided at all costs.
“We have to maintain the integrity of the cold chain,” she said.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe