KZN health to get lion's share of Covid-19 response budget

23 July 2020 - 14:36 By Zimasa Matiwane
The total estimated Covid-19 response expenditure for the KwaZulu-Natal provincial health department amounts to R8.2bn, provincial treasury announced on Thursday.
The total estimated Covid-19 response expenditure for the KwaZulu-Natal provincial health department amounts to R8.2bn, provincial treasury announced on Thursday. 
Image: REUTERS / Eduardo Munoz

The KwaZulu-Natal department of health needs an additional R3.2bn for more ICU staff, doctors, nurses and tracing teams in its response to Covid-19.

The total estimated Covid-19 response expenditure for the provincial health department amounts to R8.2bn, the provincial treasury announced on Thursday. 

"The infrastructure required for the Covid-19 response currently amounts to R1.7bn, with the balance made up of equipment [including PPE], linen, ICU beds, among others," finance MEC Ravi Pillay revealed in a special adjustments budget speech.

Pillay said infrastructure provided included converting existing wards into Covid-19 wards, as well as quarantine and isolation sites across the province. The cost provides for temporary field hospitals in areas such as Durban, Pietermaritzburg, KwaDukuza and Empangeni.

“The department has included reprioritisation of at least R1.4bn from within its budget, and an additional conditional grant allocation of R585.7m is made. The amount allocated to health from the provincial reprioritisation sees R4.5bn of the R6.2bn allocated to this department,” Pillay said.

The total amount the province has estimated that is required for the Covid-19 response is about R11.5bn. With health’s response calculated at R8.2bn, education at R2.8bn, social development R300.1m and learner transport at R214m.

Pillay said it was also decided to allocate R300m toward the provincial economic recovery response and to reallocate R200m to transport for infrastructure projects.

The provincial education amount of R2.8bn takes into account some of the costs of repairing schools vandalised during lockdown, providing chemical toilets for some schools that didn't have adequate facilities, water provision, PPEs and additional cleaners.

"The amount identified through internal reprioritisation is R1.2bn and the amount to be allocated to the department from the R6.2bn provincial reprioritisation is R1bn. The balance of the costs will be funded through further internal reprioritisation,” Pillay explained.

The costs in social development for providing care to the homeless during lockdown and providing food parcels to destitute families have been calculated at R25.7m and R239.1m, respectively. 

The department also indicated that R35.3m was needed to address gender-based violence. 

“Provincial treasury engaged the department and was able to identify this full amount from internal reprioritisation as a result of the slow filling of posts in the first quarter, as well as lower transfers to early childhood development (ECD) centres, partially as these were over-budgeted for when compared to historic spending, but also because the ECD centres were not open during lockdown,” Pillay added. 

Pillay said all departments would have to account for funds spent.

"We want to stress that no-one is exempt from this accountability and there will be consequence management," he said. 

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