Maverick Citizen

MAVERICK CITIZEN

Business for South Africa rolls up its sleeves to support government with vaccine roll-out

Stavros Nicolaou, head of the health working group for B4SA. (Photo: Supplied)

Business leaders Stavros Nicolaou, Martin Kingston and Cass Coovadia gave a webcast update on Wednesday on Business for South Africa’s readiness ‘to support the national vaccine programme under the leadership of the national government’. This was a result of its commitment in March 2020 to work with the government, the Solidarity Fund and civil society to fight Covid-19.

Business for South Africa (B4SA) is a network of business volunteers working to support health, labour, economic interventions and proposals for the country’s economic recovery strategy, providing health and economic models to inform policymaking, and sharing practical return to work advice.

Its identified key objectives are to:

  • Support the government’s vaccination roll-out to eradicate the pandemic and return to a fully functional economy where livelihoods are restored;
  • Work with the government and social partners to ensure expedient and efficient vaccination roll-out;
  • Coordinate resources and expertise from business and civil society partners to provide the government with the support it needs to roll out the vaccination programme;
  • Jointly problem solve and resolve issues through working closely with government counterparts; and
  • Communicate relevant information and critical decisions to constituencies timeously and transparently.

Mark Kingston told the B4SA webinar that the steering committee had established eight workstreams dedicated to assisting the government, that would have a major focus on transparency and visibility of the roll-out programme.

Stavros Nicolaou conducted a presentation on the progress of workstreams for the roll-out programme as follows:

Planning, integration and implementation

The vaccine roll-out will be in three phases. B4SA will initially focus on Phase 1A of the plan which is for patient-facing healthcare workers in acute hospitals followed by 1B  for non-patient-facing healthcare workers in acute hospitals and lastly 1C – other healthcare workers. It says that it has a consolidated list of vaccine sites which have been checked for readiness. Curators and vaccinators at each of the sites have been identified. The curators were trained by the department of health and the vaccinators will receive training on standard operating procedures and external ventricular drains this week.

Vaccine logistics, cold chain and distribution

Logistics and distribution plans for Phase 1A private facilities have been completed and healthcare workers have been geo-mapped to vaccination sites. Cold chain management plans are in place for the required 2oC-8oC storages of the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines.

Cas Coovadia explained that B4SA would not be involved in the procurement process of the vaccine roll-out as that would be done exclusively by the government. He said that B4SA would support logistics and the administering of the vaccine. 

Service delivery platforms and vaccine delivery readiness

A comprehensive list of clinics, GP practices and health industry centres are being collated and will be submitted to the department of health for vetting and approval. 

Communications

Stavros Nicholaou said there would be a strong focus on internal and external communications and that B4SA would work with the National Communication Partnership and support government communications campaigns. There would also be a newsletter providing updates on workstream progress.

Coordination of costing and funding

The funding of the roll-out will be a combination of Treasury allocations and medical scheme contributions. Nicholau said that this would add up to about R12-billion in order to vaccinate 70% of the adult population.

Legal and regulatory

Nicholau said B4SA and the government were working with their legal teams to address any legal issues and have clarity on no-fault liability, as it had the potential to bottleneck supply.

Risk and assurance

B4SA is jointly managing a consolidated risk register with the government to identify and address key risks across 10 areas, including fraud, corruption and procurement

In closing, the B4SA steering committee stressed that all documented migrants and South African citizens were eligible for vaccination. It said that even those not covered by medical schemes could get vaccinated at a cost that would be borne by the state. 

The committee admitted the issue of undocumented people would prove problematic, particularly because this would continue the spread of the virus. DM/MC

Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c), it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address Covid-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]

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"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"