Equity in Health

Achieving the health Millennium Development Goals for South Africa: Challenges and priorities
Chopra M, Lawn JE, Sanders D, Barron P, Karim SSA, Bradshaw D, Jewkes R, Karim QA, Flisher AJ, Mayosi BM, Tollman SM, Churchyard GJ and Coovadia H: The Lancet 374(9692): 1023–1031, 5 September 2009

Fifteen years after liberation from apartheid, South Africans are facing new challenges for which the highest calibre of leadership, vision, and commitment is needed. The effect of the unprecedented HIV and AIDS epidemic has been immense. Substantial increases in mortality and morbidity are threatening to overwhelm the health system and undermine the potential of South Africa to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This paper has identified several examples of leadership and innovation that point towards a different future scenario. It discusses the type of vision, leadership and priority actions needed to achieve such a change. There is still time to change the health trajectory of the country, and even meet the MDGs. The new South African Government, installed in April 2009, has the mandate and potential to address the public health emergencies facing the country – will they do so or will another opportunity and many more lives be lost?

Achieving the MDGs: The contribution of family planning
Ochan W: UNFPA Uganda, September 2010

In this presentation, the author argues that investing in family planning is the single most strategic, low cost, high impact and quick win strategy to achieving economic, social and political transformation. The author reviews several instruments for investing in family planning in Uganga, such as the National Development Plan (2010–2014), which has clear targets for family planning and focuses on investing in ‘demographic window’ (when the proportion of population of working age group is particularly prominent in a country), and the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, to which the government should link National Development Programme targets and in which the appropriate sectors should be prioritised to bring about investment. The Annual Health Sector budget allocation is reported to have been relatively stagnant for FP over the years and must be increased. In addition, government needs to monitor whether or not the allocated funds are actually spent on FP.

Achieving the Millennium Development Goals: Does Mental Health Play a Role?
Miranda JJ, Patel V: PLoS Med 2 (10), October 2005

There is compelling evidence that in developing countries mental disorders are amongst the most important causes of sickness, disability, and, in certain age groups, premature mortality. Mental health–related conditions, including depressive and anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, and schizophrenia, contribute to a significant proportion of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and years lived with disability (YLDs), even in poor countries. Apart from causing suffering, mental illness is closely associated with social determinants, notably poverty and gender disadvantage, and with poor physical health, including having HIV/AIDS and poor maternal and child health. Yet mental health remains a largely ignored issue in global health, and its complete absence from the MDGs reinforces the position that mental health has little role to play in major development-related health agendas. This article seeks to question this assumption. Using evidence on mental health in developing countries, it argues that addressing mental health problems is an integral part of health system interventions aimed at achieving some of the key MDGs.

Action on the social determinants of health: Learning from previous experiences
World Health Organisation: 2010

The 2000s have seen health stand higher than ever on the international development agenda, and stakeholders increasingly acknowledge the inadequacy of health strategies that fail to address the social roots of illness and well-being. Momentum for action on the social dimensions of health is building. Based on the historical survey, four key issue areas are highlighted here, relevant to work on social determinants of health. The first concerns the scope of change and appropriate policy entry points, and the choice between comprehensive and selective primary health care that confronted public health leaders in the 1980s. The work needs evaluation criteria for identifying appropriate policy entry points for different countries/jurisdictions. Potential resistance to social determinants messages can be anticipated from several constituencies, but there are also exceptional political opportunities, including in the global and national processes connected to the MDGs.

ACTION PLEDGED ON AIDS DRUGS

South Africa's health system will soon offer drugs blocking the Aids virus, the body that advises the government on HIV/Aids has said. The South African National Aids Council (Sanac) made the announcement following a meeting with the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) - a group that has been urging the government to supply the drugs.

ACTIVISM ESSENTIAL FOR SUCCESS IN ACCESS TO TREATMENT, says Achmat

Africans must become more active in campaigning for HIV/AIDS treatment initiatives in their communities. This was the key message emerging at a special discussion forum with Zackie Achmat, co-chair of the Treatment Action campaign, in Harare, Zimbabwe on Thursday, December 4, 2003. SAfAIDS (Southern Africa HIV/AIDS Information Dissemination Service) and HIVOS hosted the forum. The meeting was intended to be an opportunity for Zimbabweans to learn more about South Africa’s experiences in the treatment campaign and explore practicable solutions for the Zimbabwean situation.

Further details: /newsletter/id/30163
ACTIVISTS "FRUSTRATED" BY DELAYS IN WTO TALKS

World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks held late last year failed to resolve the issue of access to generic medicines in developing countries after the United States blocked an agreement on granting easier access to the drugs. "Its a tragedy that there is no solution after one year of talks ... millions of people have died from [infectious] diseases this year. The rich countries don't realise how much this has affected poor countries," head of international affairs for treatment lobby group Act-Up Paris, Gaëlle Krikorian, told PlusNews.

Further details: /newsletter/id/29538
Activists "frustrated" by delays in WTO talks

World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks held late last year failed to resolve the issue of access to generic medicines in developing countries after the United States blocked an agreement on granting easier access to the drugs. "Its a tragedy that there is no solution after one year of talks ... millions of people have died from [infectious] diseases this year. The rich countries don't realise how much this has affected poor countries," head of international affairs for treatment lobby group Act-Up Paris, Gaëlle Krikorian, told PlusNews.

Further details: /newsletter/id/29530
Activists continue HIV/AIDS protests in south africa

South Africa's National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NAPWA) on continued a protest outside the Johannesburg offices of a drug multinational as part of its "Black Easter" campaign. The campaign was launched to "convince pharmaceutical companies to provide free antiretroviral drugs in the country" and included demonstrations outside the offices of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Association (PMA), NAPWA national director, Nkululeko Nxesi, told PlusNews.

Activists in South Africa welcome increase in AIDS budget

AIDS activists welcomed the increased expenditure on HIV/AIDS in the South African 2002-2003 budget released last week, but expressed concern that the funds could be misused at provinical level.

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