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Address by Hon. AF Mahlalela on the National Public Health Institute of South Africa (NAPHISA) Bill

Debate speech by Hon. AF Mahlalela on the National Public Health Institute of South Africa (NAPHISA) Bill, National Assembly Parliament, Cape Town, 21 August 2018

Hon Speaker/ Deputy Speaker/ House Chairperson, Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Hon. Members.

Both the National Development Plan (NDP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) converge around the fact that a well-functioning and effective health system is bedrock for the attainment of the outcomes envisaged in the NDP and SDG 2030.

The trajectory for the 2030 vision, therefore, commences with strengthening and improvement of the health system, to ensure that it is efficient and responsive. Strengthening the effectiveness of the health system is the foundation on which successful interventions to improve health outcomes must be built. The establishment of the National Public Health Institute (NAPHISA) will help to enhance health systems effectiveness by performing some of the following functions:

  • Coordinate, develop and maintain surveillance systems to collect, analyse, and interpret health data to guide health interventions;
  • Strengthen capacity in public and occupational health surveillance in order to reduce the burden of disease and injury
  • Use surveillance data and other sources of information, where appropriate, to advice on the setting of health policies, priorities and planning;
  • Strengthen cross-border, regional and international collaboration on communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases, injury and violence prevention and occupational health.
  • Use public health information for monitoring and evaluation of policies and interventions;
  • Strengthen advocacy, social mobilisation and partnerships in order to address the scourge of communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases, cancer surveillance, injury and violence prevention and occupational health.

The process of amalgation has already begun with the merger of the NICD and the National Cancer Registry. In addition, funding to create new information and financial management systems has been provided for through the National Treasury during the 2016/17 financial year. This will significantly reduce the cost of transition. There are advanced discussions with the Services around shared corporate functions during the transition processes, thereby reducing the need for more additional funding that needs to be made available. There is also a reduced financial implication for personal budget due to the decision to align the staff of NAPHISA with the scales and conditions of service of the Department of Public Service and Administration.

The Bill in clause 14 seeks to protect any work, invention, discovery or improvement derived from indigenous knowledge, originally held by any person or community, in such a manner that the person or community participates in the benefits arising from such protection. Since the Bill contains provisions pertaining to customs of traditional communities, the Bill was subsequently refer to the National House of Traditional Leaders for its comments in terms of section 18 (1)(a) of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act, 2003.

Hon. Deputy Speaker/House Chairperson, International experience points to the fact that only a strengthened health system, further fortified by effective intersectoral collaboration to address social determinants of health, can improve health outcomes. Some countries formed their NPHI in response to a specific public health threat or gap and later expanded the focus on other public health issues. Canada for example, established in 2004 its Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) as a response to the outbreaks of severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2002-2003 which highlighted deficiencies in its public health system.

  • more coordinated and efficient public health resources;
  • Better programme management
  • Fewer duplicative functions and
  • Cost savings.

In conclusion, it's our believe Hon deputy Speaker/House Chairperson that NAPHISA will serve as the national focus for developing and applying disease prevention and control, provide leadership to provinces and local authorities, environmental health, and health promotion as well as educational activities which are designed to improve the health of the masses of our people.

I thank you.

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