The Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) shared early findings of the Country Report with the National Planning Commission last week. While work on the Report is on-going, the findings already reflect critically on the measures and interventions adopted by Government and provide early recommendations for addressing the on-going health crises. The Covid-19 Country Report was initiated by the late Minister Jackson Mthembu, who felt that the country is facing an unprecedented catastrophic pandemic, and that our response had to be properly documented and assessed. The main aim of the Country Report is to record measures and interventions adopted by government in partnership with social partners to manage, respond to and combat the spread of the Covid-19, as well as its socio-economic impacts on all of us, but especially on vulnerable groups. Early observations and recommendations from the authors include:
- Hunger is the most pressing issue for communities. It is critical that government takes the lead in galvanizing a national response to food insecurity, including engaging with industry concerning a basket of nutritious staple foods that can be sold without manufacturer/retailer markup.
- The mode of food delivery to the recipients, including school schemes, NGOs etc., in the context of the enforced restrictions is a critical issue as well.
- The profile of disaster management centres at national, provincial and local level must be raised, with better resourcing and preparedness.
- Government should review the classification of essential services to avoid similar mistakes in the event of future crises.
- Attention on Covid-19 should not compromise management of other diseases for example HIV, etc.
- The new interfaces of public and private healthcare could be an important platform for sector reform going forward.
- It is important to address behaviour change through better citizen engagement and communication. Buy-in of the population will be critical to reduce the burden of the expected “third wave” (winter, new coronavirus variants).
- Increased demand for ICT and broadband sets an agenda for a digital economy and platforms for delivery of certain services, education, health, etc. normalizing working from home and bridging the digital divide. In education, ICT skills must be incorporated in the teacher development programmes.
All papers, presentations and recordings are available on GTAC’s website.