A group of leading international humanitarian, development, social justice, environmental, and workers' organisations have warned that June 2012’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) looks set to add almost nothing to global efforts to deliver sustainable development. The warning from Development Alternatives, Greenpeace, the Forum of Brazilian NGOs and Social Movements for Environment and Development (FBOMS), International Trades Union Confederation (ITUC), Oxfam, and Vitae Civilis comes at the end of two weeks of negotiations between governments on the conference outcomes, with less than 50 days before the summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 20 - 22 June. The group warns that the current negotiating text does not adequately capture human rights and principles of equity, precaution, and 'polluter pays', despite the urgency provided by the current financial crises, growing inequalities, broken food As a benchmark against which to assess the outcome of Rio+20, the organisations have set out a 10-point agenda that includes global goals for sustainable development, designed to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and realise justice and human rights, while respecting the finite limits of Earth's natural resources.
Governance and participation in health
In 1987, May 28th was proclaimed the International Day of Action for Women's Health. Health is a human right for all and, as asserted in many international human rights covenants and agreements, the right to health cannot be fulfilled if women's sexual and reproductive rights are not addressed. However, health sector reforms and privatisation of health services around the world are jeopardising women's access to health and sexual and reproductive rights. Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) invites you to support promoting women's sexual and reproductive health and rights by organising your own activity or event on the 28th of May.
This article reports on the work of HealthNewsReview.org to monitor the quality of health and medical news coverage. To combat inaccuracies, HealthNewsReview requires three reviewers to assess each article, applying 10 criteria. These include whether the journalists have adequately considered the cost of the intervention, its potential harms and benefits, whether they had compared new ideas with existing alternatives, and whether they solely relied on a press release or used independent sources. Projecting forward, the author observes that there should be room for promoting health literacy, for example, explaining that people should focus on absolute not relative risk reduction. People should not be amazed by claims that a drug reduced the risk of a problem by 50% (relative risk reduction) when that may mean that the absolute risk reduction was only from 2 in 100 in the untreated group to 1 in 100 in the treated group – a 1% absolute risk reduction.
Improving quality of primary care is a key focus of international health policy. Two methods of improving the quality of interpersonal care in primary care have been proposed. One involves the feedback of patient assessments of interpersonal care to physicians, and the other involves brief training and education programmes. This study therefore reviewed the efficacy of (i) feedback of real patient assessments of interpersonal care skills, (ii) brief training focused on the improvement of interpersonal care and (iii) interventions combining both (i) and (ii). Nine studies were included (two patient based feedback studies and seven brief training studies). Of the two feedback studies, one reported a significant positive effect. The authors conclude that there is limited evidence concerning the effects of patient based feedback. There is reasonable evidence that brief training as currently delivered is not effective, although the evidence is not definitive, due to the small number of trials and the variation in the training methods and goals.
Edited by: Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Carlos Lopes and Khalid Malik, 2002.
The book contains a range of views from practitioners,academics and policy-makers about what has gone right with technical cooperation in recent years, what has gone wrong,and how to do it better and perhaps very differently.In so doing,it focuses on the questions of indigenous capacity, ownership, civic engagement and new possibilities for knowledge-sharing, for which the revolution in information and communications technologies offers ample opportunities.
In this Call to Action, the People’s Health Movement (PHM) argues that the underlying cause of health inequities are the neoliberal economic policies that are the hallmark of present day capitalism. PHM says the global health crisis is a consequence of the failure to address the social, political and environmental determinants of health. Ironically, the response of national and international institutions to the current financial crisis has been merely to restore the confidence’ of the same institutions and financial markets that caused the crisis in the first place. Governments have meanwhile enacted an austerity agenda by cutting health and social spending, effectively deepening and reinforcing inequities between rich and poor. PHM puts forward an alternative vision in which a reformed economic system values individuals over capital, with just, fair and democratic political and economic processes and institutions, and better and transformed global heath governance that is free from corporate influence and the influence of unaccountable private actors. It calls for equitable public health systems that are universal, integrated and comprehensive, and also provide a platform for appropriate action on social determination of health.
An emerging movement of self-organized, decentralized community action networks is responding to the local realities of COVID-19 in Cape Town, South Africa. It reflects an unprecedented city-wide response to COVID-19, based on principles of self-organizing, mutual aid and social solidarity. In early March 2020, just as South Africa was waking up to the spectacle of COVID-19 within its borders, a group of community organizers, activists, public health folk and artists came together and kick-started a community-led response to the pandemic. This became known as Cape Town Together, a growing network of neighbourhood-level Community Action Networks (CANs) spread across the city. The CANs act locally, while also sharing collective wisdom and various resources through the broader network of Cape Town Together. They work collaboratively, recognizing that everyone brings something to the table. Some are weavers and builders, others are storytellers, caregivers or healers. Some are disruptors whilst others are experimenters and guides. The CANs have galvanized a significant number of people from across the city around a shared experience. Many are seeing the inequality exposed by COVID-19 in a new light and will remain galvanized beyond the immediate crisis.
Since 2002, YouthNet has partnered with MTV on the Staying Alive Campaign, which reached over 800 million households worldwide, making it the largest public health campaign ever. The campaign produced five hours of television available to TV and radio stations around the world, and also produced a Web site with HIV/AIDS information, referrals, and programming in English, French, and Spanish. A case study was recently published by YouthNet, detailing the successes and experiences of the 2002 Staying Alive Campaign.
As special-interest associations, community-based organisations fill an institutional vacuum, providing basic services to ensure a robust response to crises of poverty. It is at this local level that people, however limited their incomes or their assets, tend to reveal their true wealth: the ingenuity that they need to solve their own problems and those of their communities. Community based organisations (CBOs) are locally based membership organisations that work to provide services to their own communities. They have emerged in response to the need for collective social action. Their main characteristic is the importance that they attach to self-help, based on the principle of traditional communal values, reciprocity and interdependence. The author argues that CBOs can serve as a channel through which African governments can facilitate development at the grassroots level. While the CBOs need capacity-building to strengthen their skills in areas such as bookkeeping and accounts, experience indicates that the related needs assessments should be carried out jointly with communities. Examples show considerable grassroots enthusiasm for decentralisation within communities that can be mobilised by winning the confidence and trust of local and traditional communities and their leaders. CBOs are argued to provide the basis for a bottom-up approach in the fight against social exclusion and in national decision-making.
This evaluation of the South African Budget Monitoring and Expenditure Tracking (BMET) project, which was launched in 2009, demonstrates that citizen involvement in economic governance is both possible and progressing. The project is aimed at improving the delivery, accessibility and affordability of treatment for people living with HIV and AIDS and TB. Project interventions have reached a range of targeted beneficiaries and achieved a positive impact in four key aspects. First, community engagement has stimulated community members’ interest in budget issues relating to health care provision and mobilising for improvements. Second, health workers have a better understanding of their own and their client-community needs towards enhancing facility systems. Third, citizens are empowered with skills to research and track the quality of HIV and AIDS and TB services in their community and demand answers. Finally, collaboration on resolving longstanding and complex health service delivery problems has been enhanced because citizens, organisations and health authorities have a shared, relational understanding of both the barriers to and the opportunities for change.