Numbering just about a hundred, activists under the aegis of the Pan-African AIDS Treatment Access Movement (PATAM) spoke, kicked, railed and acted up against many 'enemies' of access to treatment for HIV/AIDS in Africa: Big Pharma, the unfeeling, profit-focused multinational corporations, and African leaders who have refused to provide treatment for their peoples. "You talk, we die," yelled the activists, as they mounted a blockage of the VIP and heads of governments lounge at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, venue of the 13th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA), held in Nairobi, Kenya.
Equity in Health
In her address at the 2010 World Health Assembly, Margaret Chan charted the successes and failures of public health over the past year. She underlined the importance of equity and social justice, which are central to the Millennium Declaration and its goals, as well as the primary health care approach. Principles such as universal access to services, multisectoral action and community participation form a solid basis for strengthening health systems. However, efforts to reduce maternal and newborn deaths have shown the slowest progress of all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in all regions, largely, as she pointed out, because reducing these deaths depends absolutely on a well-functioning health system. She informed participants that, in preparation for the September United Nations Summit on the Millennium Development Goals, the Secretary-General’s office is finalising a joint action plan to accelerate progress in reaching the health-related MDGs, with a special focus on maternal and child health. She urges all participants to maintain a focus on building strong health systems and improving regulatory capacity. Acknowledging that WHO has not met its goals in the past, she re-iterated the organisation's commitment to improving fundamental capacities to help reach international commitments, increase efficiency and fairness, improve health outcomes in sustainable ways and move countries towards greater self-reliance.
This paper offers two unique contributions to existing global and regional frameworks on multisectoral action on NCDs and their social determinants. The first is a typology of multisectoral action that highlights three general categories of possible action outside the health sector: expanding delivery platforms; NCD-specific actions on social determinants; and NCD-sensitive actions on social determinants. This paper’s second contribution is a framework that outlines more specific areas and opportunities for actors outside the health sector to take action on the social determinants of NCDs. The framework has two parts. The first describes opportunities for NCD-specific and NCD-sensitive actions across the policy and programme lifecycle. The second part describes opportunities to create an enabling environment that promotes multisectoral action. Actors outside the health sector are uniquely positioned to help build political will, enabling legal frameworks, enforcement mechanisms and effective governance structures that are multisectoral and participatory – all anchored in a human rights-based approach.
The Adelaide Statement was developed by the participants of the Health in All Policies International Meeting, held in Adelaide, Australia from 13–15 April 2010. Its aim is to engage leaders and policy-makers at all levels of government, including local, regional, national and international governments. It emphasises that government objectives are best achieved when all sectors include health and well-being as a key component of policy development and that the social determinants of health should be considered when addressing public health issues. Although many other sectors already contribute to better health, significant gaps still exist. The Adelaide Statement outlines the need for a new social contract between all sectors to advance human development, sustainability and equity, as well as to improve health outcomes. This requires a new form of governance with joined-up leadership within governments, across all sectors and between levels of government. The Statement highlights the contribution of the health sector in resolving complex problems across government.
Africa Action has welcomed the announcement of new money to fight HIV/AIDS by the Bush administration, but Africa Action Executive Director Salih Booker noted that this money must be made available immediately if it is to save lives and have a real impact on the course of the pandemic in Africa and globally.
This article, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), focuses on health as central to the achievement of all the millennium development goals (MDGs). Key challenges for health improvement include reversing the global HIV/AIDS epidemic and reducing child and maternal mortality. The authors acknowledge the need for more aid but argue that this is only part of the picture. To effectively absorb increases in aid, poor countries need strong, equitable health systems and institutions. They also need the capacity to deliver services, which includes having enough skilled staff.
At the midway point between their adoption in 2000 and the 2015 target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, sub-Saharan Africa is not on track to achieve any of the Goals. Although there have been major gains in several areas and the Goals remain achievable in most African nations, even the best governed countries on the continent have not been able to make sufficient progress in reducing extreme poverty in its many forms. This UN report outlines the current indicators and gives some success stories. It observes that existing commitments made and reaffirmed by world leaders at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles and the 2005 World Summit are sufficient to meet the Goals. At the midway point of 2007, these commitments must be urgently translated into practical plans with systematic follow-through.
Africa launches a campaign for a fairer share of funding into the development of an AIDS vaccine, saying it was unacceptable that the world's poorest continent received so little attention. Though more than 28 million Africans carry the virus that causes AIDS, less than 2% of world research funding goes towards fighting the unique strains of the disease in Africa. The AAVP (African Aids Vaccine Programme) is being coordinated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva, with African scientists leading the search. The African vaccine initiative requires $233 million over the 7 years that AAVP participants have given themselves to test and produce a cheap, effective and safe vaccine for the HIV/AIDS strains common in Africa, she said.
he Africa Progress Report 2012 is the Africa Progress Panel’s flagship publication. Its purpose is to provide an overview of the progress Africa has made over the previous year. The report draws on the best research and analysis available on Africa and compiles it in a refreshing and provocative manner. Through the report, the Panel recommends a series of policy choices and actions for African policy makers who have primary responsibility for Africa’s progress, as well as vested international partners and civil society organisations. The report warns that Africa’s strong economic growth trajectory – which will see the region increase the pace of growth well beyond 5 per cent over the next two years – is at risk because of rising inequality and the marginalisation of whole sections of society. The report calls for a “relentless focus” by policymakers on jobs, justice and equity to ensure sustainable, shared growth that benefits all Africans. Failure to generate equitable growth could result in “a demographic disaster marked by rising levels of youth unemployment, social dislocation and hunger.” Africa’s governments and development partners must urgently draw up plans for a big push towards the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, the report says.
Africa is a rich continent. Some of those riches – especially oil, gas and minerals – have driven rapid economic growth over the past decade. The ultimate measure of progress, however, is the wellbeing of people – and Africa’s recent growth has not done nearly as much as it should to reduce poverty and hunger, or improve health and education. To sustain growth that improves the lives of all Africans, the continent needs an economic transformation that taps into Africa’s other riches: its fertile land, its extensive fisheries and forests, and the energy and ingenuity of its people. The Africa Progress Report 2014 describes what such a transformation would look like, and how Africa can get there. Agriculture must be at the heart that transformation. Most Africans, including the vast majority of Africa’s poor, continue to live and work in rural areas, principally as smallholder farmers. In the absence of a flourishing agricultural sector, the majority of Africans will be cut adrift from the rising tide of prosperity. To achieve such a transformation, Africa will need to overcome three major obstacles: a lack of access to formal financial services, the weakness of the continent’s infrastructure and the lack of funds for public investment.
The Africa Progress Report 2014 describes how African governments and their international partners can cooperate to remove those obstacles – and enable all Africans to benefit from their continent’s extraordinary wealth.