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Who’s new on SA’s COVID-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee?

Plus, find out what powers the expert group has.

Update [30 September 2020]: On 28 September Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced changes to the members of the COVID-19 Scientific Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC). According to Mkhize committee members were evaluated and changed to include more experts outside of the biomedicine sector such as ethicists, social scientists, and community leaders. The new MAC is co-chaired by Salim Abdool Karim and Marian Jacobs. Nhlanhla Mkhize, Barry Schoub and Portia Jordan serve as vice-chairs. A list of members can be found here.

In total, three MACs have been established during the course of South Africa’s COVID-19 response.

  • Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, chaired by Salim Abdool Karim and Marian Jacobs
  • Ministerial Advisory Committee on Coronavirus Vaccines, chaired by Barry Schoub.
  • Multisectoral Ministerial Advisory Committee on Social and Behavioural Change.

Resource details:

Publication: Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on COVID-19 terms of reference; list of sub-committees and chairs; and MAC advisories as updated on May 18

Author(s): Department of Health

Publication date: 30 March 2020

What the documents are about:

These documents outline the MAC’s powers, limitations, composition as well as the topics on which the MAC was asked to advise government.

  1. A pathologists and laboratory sub-committee, chaired by Koleka Mlisana;
  2. A clinicians sub-group, chaired by Marc Mendelson
  3. The public health sub-committee, chaired by Shabir Madhi; and 
  4. A research sub-committee with Glenda Gray as the chair. 

Salim Abdool Karim serves as the MAC overarching chair. A list of the sub-committee members can be found here.

Key take-aways from the documents:

Ministerial Advisory Committee advisories:

Other take-always:

  • The MAC will provide recommendations on managing cases of COVID-19 in the health system, interventions to control the spread of the disease, communication strategies, the research agenda and the impact of the disease on the country’s economy.  
  • Committee members participate in their personal capacity and not as representatives of a “constituency, organisation or sector”.
  • Members are to adhere to a code of conduct that includes attending meetings, respecting confidentiality and are to be collaborative.
  • Adhere to applicable procedures surrounding conflicts of interest.
  • Committee membership is unpaid. Personal time spent on the Committee and work developed for the MAC will be unremunerated.

Please note: The list of submitted advisories was provided to Bhekisisa by the Ministerial Advisory Committee’s chairperson, Salim Abdool Karim on May 18, 2020. These lists thus reflect the advisories as correct up until May 18.

[Update 30 September 2020]: On 27 August, the health department published all the MACs advisories after pressure from the media and civil society to make the documents public. (list) Read the advisories here.

You can find and download more documents here:

28 September DoH statement on the updated MAC

Terms of Reference

List of sub-committee chairs and members

List of COVID-19 submitted advisories

Cloth face masks advisory

List of COVID-19 advisories

[Please note: Information on the new coronavirus is rapidly changing. Please refer to the Department of Health for the latest information. Visit for updates on South Africa’s coronavirus response.]

Gopolang Makou was the impact and engagement officer at Bhekisisa.