The government aims to keep the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) operating long-term in South Africa and use it as a potential springboard to launch a portable healthcare record system, says communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.
Speaking at a Naspers summit on Wednesday (23 March), Ntshavheni said her department was working alongside the Department of Health and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on how to expand the EVDS, that was introduced to manage the Covid-19 pandemic, to become the base system for other public healthcare management.
“At the back of these, we will commence the digitisation of public healthcare records to make the records portable,” she said. “Portable health records will assist with effective healthcare as patients will be able to grant access to their health provider irrespective of whether they are treated in the private and public sector.”
The government launched the EVDS system in 2021 as part of its Covid-19 vaccine rollout. South Africans are required to sign up for the system electronically to receive proof of vaccination and a vaccine certificate. These certificates are now required to enter certain gatherings and events.
Ntshavheni said there are also long-term plans to digitise front-facing government services which should translate to at least 50% of government services rendered fully online. “This will require a community/society including the poor and those in rural areas to have basic digital skills to access government services,” she said.
The minister said South Africa will also rapidly expand its 5G rollout in the coming years.
“We will soon finalise plans together with the Department of Human Settlements to ensure that planned and new settlements have broadband connectivity as part of primary utility networks. In addition, these 5G networks and technologies must extend to at least 3 vertical industries over the same period,” she said.