04 June 2021 - NW1028
Thembekwayo, Dr S to ask the Minister of Health
What role will (a) medical schemes and (b) private hospitals play in the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations in the Republic?
a) South Africa’s national COVID-19 vaccination strategy is designed along the principles of equitable access, social solidarity and fair pricing. Our main priority as government is to ensure that we have the most rational approach to procuring, distributing and administering the vaccine to all members of the national population, irrespective of whether they have medical scheme cover or not.
Medical schemes, as per the provisions of the Medical Schemes Act and its enabling regulations, are mandated to fund for all their members’ costs associated with the diagnosis, treatment, management and vaccination for COVID-19. These costs are to be paid for in full as per the categorization of COVID-19 as a Prescribed Minimum Benefit. Government has also put into place a mechanism to support medical schemes, and their administrators, in establishing accredited COVID-19 vaccination sites across the country. This is intended to expand the number of sites that medical scheme members and non-members can access in order for them to receive their vaccination as per their registration and scheduling on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS).
b) Government position is that the effective, fair and sustainable achievement of the targets outlined in the vaccination plan requires a collaborative effort involving a number of partners. Private hospitals, including general practitioner as well as community and corporate pharmacies, are playing a role in the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination strategy. The National Department of Health, in liaison with the South African Pharmacy Council, has determined clear criteria that all facilities must comply with (such as having the appropriate cold change facilities and trained personnel to administer the vaccines) in order to receive accreditation as a vaccination site. Therefore, private hospitals would also need to comply with these requirements to be able to participate in the roll-out. Private hospitals and private pharmacies are already participating in the vaccines roll-out program.