R2.3 billion allocated for COVID-19 vaccines

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana has in his inaugural Budget Speech announced a R2.3 billion allocation for the purchase of more  doses and administering of COVID-19  jabs in the 2022/23 financial year.

The National Treasury in the 2022 Budget Review said the additional allocation was being made despite the bulk of vaccine purchases having been made in the 2021/22 financial year.

Of the R2.3 billion, R1.3 billion was provisional.

The country has experienced four significant waves of the virus, with 3.6 million confirmed cases and 95 000 confirmed deaths by the end of January 2022.

The document reveals that over the medium term, health baseline will account for R764.1 billion (or 13.8%) of government’s consolidated total expenditure. This will be a marginal decrease from R259  billion in 2022/23 to R257.5 billion in 2024/25, as allocations for COVID‐19 wind down.

In his speech, the Minister said: “An additional R15.6 billion is allocated to provincial health departments to support their continued response to COVID-19, and to bridge shortfalls in essential goods and services. R3.3 billion is allocated to absorb medical interns and community service doctors”.

In the Budget Review, the National Treasury said as larger numbers of doctors complete their training, including the Cuba programme, provincial Health Departments would need to offer more medical internships and community service posts.

In the 2022 Budget Review document accompanying the Minister’s Budget Speech, the National Treasury said, over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period, R7.8 billion would be allocated to the statutory human resources component of the human resources and training grant, which supplements provincial funding for the posts.

Of this amount, reads the document, R3.3 billion is additional allocations and R744.7 million was reprioritised from other health spending items.

“The Department of Health will have to finance any future shortfalls in funding within its baseline,” the Treasury said.

In the document, the Department says provinces will receive total additional funding of R15.6 billion over the MTEF through the provincial equitable share to support the fight against COVID-19 and address shortfalls in essential goods and services.

Over the next three years, R440.5 million is shifted from the Department of Health’s main budget to move the forensic chemistry laboratories function to the National Health Laboratory Service.

“This change is intended to improve processing times for laboratory services that support police investigations and judicial processes,” said the Treasury. – SAnews.gov.za