Thapelo Lekabe
Digital Journalist
2 minute read
14 Apr 2022
1:35 pm

Govt extends deadline for public comment on proposed health act regulations

Thapelo Lekabe

The health department has also included a WhatsApp number for submissions.

Picture File: A heath worker receives a J&J vaccine booster. Picture: Gallo Images/Die Burger/Jaco Marais

Government has extended the deadline for South Africans to have their say on the proposed amendments to the National Health Act to 24 April 2022.

The draft regulations, which are aimed at dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and other notifiable conditions outside the national state of disaster, were gazetted for public comment in March by the Department of Health.

The deadline for submissions was initially on Good Friday, 15 April 2022.

ALSO READ: Phaahla defends proposed health act regulations

The director-general of the Department of Health, Dr Sandile Buthelezi, on Friday announced that the cut-off date was extended.

“The minister has authorised us to extend the period for an extra seven days and that will be in the Government Gazette this morning.

“And we have now, in addition to the email, people can actually use the WhatsApp number that will be gazetted to comment on the matter,” he said.

Buthelezi made the announcement during a meeting of parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health.

The Department of Health said it had received more than 150,000 submissions from the public so far. The WhatsApp number for comments is 0600 123 456.

Amendments to National Health Act

The draft health regulations – which have been rejected by some opposition parties and civil society organisations – include compulsory medical examinations, screening, vaccination and quarantine provisions, among other measures.

Government hopes to use the new regulations in the National Health Act to manage the pandemic outside of the Disaster Management Act following the lifting of the national state of disaster earlier this month.

Earlier, Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla defended the draft regulations saying they would assist with keeping South Africa’s Covid-19 infections and positivity rate low.

“We want to delay any rise in new infections so that we don’t burden our health facilities and our health workers who are already very stretched and have had quite a lot of stress as a result of the previous waves,” he said.

The minister also reiterated his previous statements that government was not trying to cling to lockdown powers through the regulations.

“There is no desire from myself as the minister and the team from health to want to continue to control people’s lives unnecessarily.

“This is purely in terms of making sure that we do have instruments through which this threat [of Covid-19], which still exists, can be managed,” Phaahla said.

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