PRESS STATEMENT: SECTION27 MAKES SUBMISSIONS ON THE NOTIFIABLE CONDITIONS REGULATIONS
22 April 2022, Johannesburg – The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, yet again, the importance of the surveillance and control of notifiable medical conditions. Accordingly, SECTION27 welcomes the opportunity to make submissions on the proposed amendments to the Regulations Relating to the Surveillance and Control of Notifiable Medical Condition (“Notifiable Medical Conditions regulations”).
With the termination of the national state of disaster as of 4 April 2022, the intention of the proposed amendments is for the management of COVID-19 to fall under the ambit of the National Health Act as opposed to under the Disaster Management Act.
In 2017, the Minister of Health promulgated the Notifiable Medical Conditions Regulations, which include a broad list of infectious and non-infectious medical conditions that are inclusive, as well as various protective mechanisms that strike a balance between the demands of public health and individual rights. However, the proposed draft amendments of 2022 seem to be intended to only cater for COVID‑19, and their proposed inclusion in the Notifiable Medical Conditions Regulations is misplaced and unjustifiably frustrates the existing protections offered by the Notifiable Medical Conditions regulations. If the proposed draft amendments are included in their current form, the Notifiable Medical Conditions Regulations will become impractical and difficult to implement. Some of the measures in the proposed draft amendments will require budget and enforcement and the National Department of Health does not have the financial or human resource power to implement such measures.
Our submissions are underpinned by the understanding that the overall purpose of regulations is to inform and direct officials on how to implement the law, and for the public to know what the powers of the officials are and what they are bound to do. Therefore, regulations should be clear, practical and implementable.
We recommend that proposed amendments be formulated as COVID-19 specific regulations, to be triggered where there is an outbreak that necessitates an approach different to that provided for in the Notifiable Medical Conditions Regulations.
The COVID-19 specific regulations should be based on the latest science and best practice rather than regurgitating measures used at the beginning of the pandemic that may now have been proven to be ineffective for their intended purpose.
Our submission can be found here.
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