South Africa: Sama Calls for Intensive Vaccination Campaign

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (in black face mask) and other leaders visit Aspen Pharmacare manufacturing facility in Gqeberha. The visit focused on progress in vaccine production as part of the partnership between government and the private sector in the national Coivd-19 vaccination programme (file photo).

The South African Medical Association (SAMA) says there is a need for intensive campaigning for more people to vaccinate against COVID-19, despite the lifting of the National State of Disaster (NSD).

SAMA welcomed the lifting of the National State of Disaster by President Cyril Ramaphosa, describing it as a positive step for South Africa and the correct move forward for the country's beleaguered economy.

"Considering the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country, ending the National State of Disaster is the appropriate step in government's response to the pandemic.

"SAMA supports the decision in the same way that it supported the decision to institute the NSD as a means to deal with the impact of COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic," SAMA CEO, Dr Vusumuzi Nhlapho, said in a statement.

Nhlapho said over the past two years, hospitals have been confronted with serious resource challenges, including human resources. However, healthcare workers have contributed immensely, "often at huge personal expense to care for patients".

While the NSD has now ended, Nhlapho noted the President's announcement of several transitional measures for the next 30 days. These include the compulsory wearing of facemasks indoors, restrictions on the number of people at gatherings, and provisions relating to international travellers.

Nhlapho said SAMA supports these transitional restrictions.

He said the medical profession has learnt many invaluable lessons during the pandemic that must inform public health in South Africa into the future.

"SAMA will therefore make a submission on the draft new health regulations before 16 April, with a view to strengthen government's response to public health challenges and ultimately improve patient care throughout the country."

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