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National Health Act, 2003 (Act No. 61 of 2003)

Chapter 3 : National Health

21. General functions of national department


(1) The Director-General must—
(a) ensure the implementation of national health policy in so far as it relates to the national department; and
(b) issue guidelines for the implementation of national health policy.


(2) The Director-General must, in accordance with national health policy—
(a) liaise with national health departments in other countries and with international agencies;
(b) issue, and promote adherence to, norms and standards on health matters, including—
(i) nutritional intervention;
(ii) environmental conditions that constitute a health hazard;
(iii) the use, donation and procurement of human tissue, blood, blood products and gametes;
(iv) sterilisation and termination of pregnancy;
(v) the provision of health services, including social, physical and mental health care;
(vi) health services for convicted persons and persons awaiting trial;
(vii) genetic services; and
(viii) any other matter that affects the health status of people in more than one province;
(c) promote adherence to norms and standards for the training of human resources for health;
(d) identify national health goals and priorities and monitor the progress of their implementation;
(e) co-ordinate health and medical services during national disasters;
(f) facilitate and promote the provision of port health service and participate in intersectoral and interdepartmental collaboration;

[Section 21(2)(f) amended by section 2 of Act No. 12 of 2013]

(g) promote health and healthy lifestyles;
(h) promote community participation in the planning, provision and evaluation of health services; conduct and facilitate health systems research in the planning, evaluation and management of health services;
(i) facilitate the provision of indoor and outdoor environmental pollution control services;
(j) facilitate and promote the provision of health services for the management, prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases; and
(k) co-ordinate health services rendered by the national department with the health services rendered by provinces and provide such additional health services as may be necessary to establish a comprehensive national health system.


(a) The Director-General must prepare strategic, medium term health and human resources plans annually for the exercise of the powers and the performance of the duties of the national department.
(b) The national health plans referred to in paragraph (a) must form the basis of—
(i) the annual budget as required by the national department responsible for finance and state expenditure; and
(ii) any other governmental planning exercise as may be required by any other law.


(4) The national health plans must comply with national health policy.


(5) The Director-General must integrate the health plans of the national department and provincial departments annually and submit the integrated health plans to the National Health Council.