President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Director-General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, will address a virtual national conference on COVID-19 on Friday, 31 July. 


The conference will be hosted by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande and the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize.


Themed "Harnessing science, technology and innovation in response to COVID-19: A national and international effort", the conference will focus on health innovations and technologies, and social and economic sustainability during and after the pandemic.


The conference brings together scientists, governments, business and civil society from all over the world, providing a platform for open discussion and contributing to a greater understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on society and the economy.


The conference comes as COVID-19 cases increase rapidly across the globe. There is also growing pressure to develop new diagnostic tools and treatment regimes, while the burden on health resources and economies remains high.


Researchers, government institutions, and biotechnology and pharmaceutical organisations are working hard to find and test drugs and treatments to save the lives of patients infected with COVID-19.


South Africa's healthcare system is under stress as infections and COVID-19-related deaths increase daily.  The lockdown measures taken to combat the pandemic are also impacting the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of citizens.


The pandemic has clearly demonstrated that science, technology and innovation are not optional in efforts to address socio-economic challenges, but vital tools that generate insights and effective solutions in the biomedical, social and economic spaces, among others.


The conference will comprise three panel discussions.  The panel on health research will discuss health innovation in support of COVID-19 (therapeutics, diagnostics, testing and tracking).  It will also consider research experiences and research collaboration in managing COVID-19 and pandemics in general.


The two other panels will focus on data modelling and analysis in managing COVID-19, and on the socio-economic impact of the disease and possibilities for economic recovery.


Panellists include Prof. Salim Abdool Karim (Chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19), Prof. Sarah Agbor (African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology), Dr Michael Makanga (Executive Director of the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership) and Dr Murat Sönmez (Head of the World Economic Forum's Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution).


The media are invited as follows:

Date:   Friday, 31 July 2020

Time:  09:00-12:30


To RSVP, please contact Veronica Mohapeloa at 083 400 5750 or Thabang Setlhare at 072 659 9690.





Issued by:

Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology

DST Building (53), CSIR Campus

Meiring Naude Road




Enquiries: Ishmael Mnisi 0660378859


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