The newly appointed Health Department Director General Sandile Buthelezi will take the reins from 1 June 2020.

Buthelezi, whose appointment was announced a fortnight ago, will take office at a critical time with the country and the world at large in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

His first day in office will coincide with the country’s move to alert level 3 of lockdown.

“I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate Dr Buthelezi and believe that he is certainly up to the task,” said Health Minister, Dr Zwelini Mkhize, upon welcoming Buthelezi.

A medical doctor, Buthelezi brings a wealth of experience having worked in the implementation and rolling out of government’s strategy to fight HIV and TB in our country. He has also worked with international organisations that have over the years given support to South Africa in its health programmes.

Dr Buthelezi, also carries direct knowledge of challenges faced by public health facilities, having worked as a superintendent of hospitals at a young age.

While welcoming Buthelezi, the Health Minister expressed appreciation to the Acting Director General, Dr Anban Pillay who has been acting since the departure of the former DG.

“We also wish to bid farewell to Dr Yogan Pillay, the DDG for Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases prevention, treatment and rehabilitation who is going into early retirement after working for the national Department of Health for 23 years,” said the Minister. 

Under Pillay’s leadership South Africa’s HIV treatment programme grew to become the largest in the world, new vaccines were introduced as part of the expanded programme on immunisation and infant, under five and maternal mortality rates have declined significantly.

In December 2019, Dr Pillay requested to take early retirement in order to join the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) as Country Director for South Africa and senior advisor on Universal Health Coverage for CHAI globally. CHAI began working with the South African government in 2003 and has operated in the country since 2008.

South Africa anchors many global pricing deals that reduce the costs of essential health products and allows other countries to save on the same products.

CHAI has over the years been one of the organisations that have supported the department to improve access to lifesaving treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of HIV, tuberculosis and malaria as well as maternal and neonatal health, sexual and reproductive health, non-communicable diseases including cancer as well as health financing. “We wish Dr Yogan Pillay well in his future endeavours,” said the Minister.