Government will in the next financial year avail an additional R8 billion to the health system for the country’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
This will be in addition to the R20 billion the state allocated in the 2020/21 financial year, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said on Wednesday, while delivering the 2021 Budget Speech, in Parliament.
In a Budget Review document, the National Treasury said the funds were to enable the sector to expand prevention, screening, testing and hospital capacity.
The R8 billion, which will be allocated to provincial health departments through the provincial equitable share, is expected to enable the sector to sustain these activities and respond to possible future waves of COVID-19 infection.
“Provincial governments receive an additional R8 billion in 2021/22 to continue the public health response to the pandemic, and the potential for additional waves of infection. Provinces can mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns on their revenues by improving efficiency, particularly in the procurement of health equipment,” said the Minister.
In total, the health expenditure function will over the medium term make up 14.2 percent of total government spending, declining from R247 billion in 2020/21 to R245 billion in 2023/24.
“Provincial health departments receive about 92 percent (R678.7 billion) of these medium-term allocations.
Reductions to the sector, mostly focused on compensation spending, are estimated at about R50.3 billion over the 2021 MTEF period,” the document reads.
To achieve this, other reductions would be required from health departments to increase efficiency. This included generating savings through centralised procurement of certain goods, reducing variations in unit costs in HIV programmes and improving management of overtime costs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on the South African health system. As at 16 February 2021, the country had 1.5 million confirmed cases and over 137 000 excess deaths as reported by the South African Medical Research Council.
Over the MTEF period, R29.4 million is allocated to Tygerberg Regional Hospital and R100 million to Klipfontein Regional Hospital in the Western Cape through the health facility revitalisation grant.