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Minister Aaron Motsoaledi: Second reading debate on National Public Health Institute of South Africa

23 August 2018

The Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, MP second reading debate National Public Health Institute of South Africa National Assembly, 21 August 2018

Honourable Speaker
My Cabinet Colleagues and Deputy Ministers present
My Colleague Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health, Mme Lindelwa Dunjwa
Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee on Health
Honourable Members of the House
Ladies and gentlemen

Good afternoon

Any country that does not have a reliable intelligence service is vulnerable to all manner of dangers brought by criminal syndicates, gangsterism, political machinations and even opportunistic attacks that emerge internally or externally.
A reliable intelligence service is meant to provide early warning so that the country can counter the impending threat, thwart it before it starts or get ready to deal with it.

In a similar manner, countries need a forewarning about the above threats, it also needs a forewarning about very small invisible enemies, i.e disease agents and disease processes.

Though many countries do not necessarily practise this, it is an incontestable fact that prevention, early detection and early response to a disease renders that disease less dangerous than when it is allowed to fester and only be dealt with much later.

Successful control of diseases and consequently reduction of morbidity and mortality depends much on an effective surveillance and early warning system.

On our Continent, the well-known Ebola epidemic has taught us and the whole world a hard lesson. Hence after the aftermath of Ebola, Africa decided to establish the African CDC or African Centre for Disease Control along the lines of the world renowned CDC in the United States of America.

In our country we had decided even before the advent of Ebola to establish a National Public Health Institute called NAPHISA or the National Public Health Institute of South Africa.

It is not that we had zero surveillance systems in our country. No, there are indeed pockets of excellence of communicable and non-communicable disease surveillance systems in South Africa. These surveillance systems are managed by different institutions, but there is lack of unified institutional capacity for providing coordinated and integrated disease and injury surveillance.

The National Public Health Institute of South Africa (NAPHISA) will be used as a vehicle to provide coordinated and integrated disease and injury surveillance data in the Republic and to enhance the effectiveness of health systems.
Current evidence is subject to inaccuracies and may not sufficiently address national and regional needs.

National Department of Health Second Reading Debate - NAPHISA Page 2 of 2

NAPHISA will be composed of six divisions or units that will deal with:

  • communicable diseases
  • non-communicable diseases
  • occupational health
  • cancer surveillance
  • injury and violence prevention
  • environmental health

As you can see, most of these divisions already exist in the present surveillance systems, for instance in the world-class National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH) and the Cancer Registry.

These three institutions will combine to form NAPHISA.

Among the Board members of NAPHISA, will be six members specialising in each of the mentioned units, plus the seventh one specialising in field epidemiology.

It is intended that the functions and roles of NAPHISA will be positioned at a national, regional, continental and international level. At any rate, some of the existing activities in one of the components of NAPHISA, i.e NICD are already positioned at the level of international collaboration. All we have to do is to pick up the remaining components and place them at a similar level.

I thank you

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