SA's ability to manage epidemic weak: WHO

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JOHANNESBURG - South Africa&39;s ability to manage any kind of epidemic is weak, a World Health Organisation (WHO) evaluation report revealed on Thursday.

It called on government to urgently pass two bills with one former Member of Parliament (MP) saying Parliamentarians are to blame for the delay.

The urgent ratification of the bills will help regulate the healthcare sector, according to the WHO report.

The report, compiled with input from local health officials, scrutinises 48 technical areas revealing strengths and weaknesses in the system.

South Africa&39;s ability to handle an epidemic scored the worst.

READ: UN aims to eliminate yellow fever epidemics in Africa by 2026

An epidemic occurs when a group of similar illnesses emerge in an area and exceed what is typical in a region. In contrast, an outbreak is a sudden occurrence of a disease in a community.

On the bright side, South Africa scored exceptionally well in areas of vaccine access, immunization and laboratory skills.

Government&39;s National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), the only level four bio-security laboratory on the continent, provides key support across Africa.

In 2014, the laboratory tested African cases of Ebola and more recently, the NICD&39;s team researched cases of listeria.

READ: Polony the origin of listeriosis outbreak

Former DA MP Wilmot James blasted Parliament for failing to timeously pass the international health regulations bill of 2005 and the national public health institution of South Africa bill of 2017.

In a Daily Maverick report, James claims the delay in passing the bills lies with National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and the chair of parliament&39;s portfolio committee on health, Mary-Ann Dunjwa.

The pair "failed to do their job," James charged in an article.

Of the 48 categories evaluated in the report, South Africa achieved good to excellent scores in a total of 37 technical areas.