In 2021, when the negotiations towards a Pandemic Accord was not yet a reality, a number of member states were advocating for restoring the centrality of the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005), and for amending these rules that already exist. This article covers the dynamics between the two parallel, somewhat competing processes: on the one hand, efforts to amend the International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005), and on the other, the process to arrive at a new Pandemic Accord. The authors argue that the IHR are back to the fore. The update outlines the changing contours of how countries are lining up along these two processes. Much of what countries aspire for, is noted to already exist. But the “targeted” amendments is where the politics lie. Who articulates what needs to be amended and why? Over the next 17 months when both these processes are expected to conclude, calling for attention to the evolution of these historic negotiations.
Values, Policies and Rights
This paper explored the lived experiences of the urban poor people in Kenya in the context of government’s COVID-19 response measures and its impact on the right to food, using focus group discussions, interviews, photovoice and digital storytelling in two informal settlements in Nairobi between January and March 2021. The human right to food was affected in various ways. Many people lost their livelihoods, affecting affordability of food, due to response measures such as social distancing, curfew, and lockdown. The food supply chain was disrupted causing limited availability and access to affordable, safe, adequate, and nutritious food. Consequently, hunger and an increased consumption of low-quality food was reported. Social protection measures were instituted. However, these were inadequate and marred by irregularities. Some households resorted to scavenging food from dumpsites, skipping meals, sex-work, urban-rural migration and depending on food donations to survive. On the positive side, some households resorted to progressive measures such as urban farming and food sharing in the community. Generally, the response measures could have been more sensitive to the human rights of urban poor people. The authors conclude that COVID-19 restrictive measures exacerbated the already existing urban vulnerability to food insecurity and violated food rights and that future response measures be executed in ways that respect the right to food and protect marginalized people from resultant vulnerabilities.
Since 2020, Deaf Zimbabwe Trust has been advocating with the Parliament of Zimbabwe for the establishment of a Parliamentary Disability Caucus. In April this year Parliament approved a motion to establish a Parliamentary Disability Caucus that will ensure that Persons with Disabilities have a voice during the formulation of laws and policies. Currently, disability issues fall under the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Social Welfare. The caucus will enhance the visibility of persons with disabilities and their access to socio-economic rights. Deaf Zimbabwe Trust working with the Victim friendly Unit and the Judiciary Service Commission is working on the development of Disability Identity Stickers on dockets to foster readiness of the Justice System in dealing with persons with disabilities and better accommodate persons with disabilities in court proceedings.
Tobacco use has remained a significant public health challenge in Uganda and a leading cause of non-communicable diseases including heart diseases and premature deaths. The author argues that tobacco is also the only legally available consumer product that kills people when it is used entirely as intended. Even when the law is in place, tobacco is still used in various forms including smoked and smokeless tobacco. The author proposes that government strengthen existing schemes to make tobacco producers more responsible for the environmental and economic costs of dealing with tobacco waste products.
Sixty civil society organisations in Africa under the banner of an Africa Common Position by Civil Society (ACPCS) presented a statement in reaction to the AU’s ‘African common position to the UN Food Systems Summit.’ In a well-attended and inclusive social movement process in July 2021, small-scale African producers of all kinds – fisherfolk, pastoralists, women, young people, agricultural workers, indigenous peoples and the urban food insecure – articulated their concerns that the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) had been captured by multinational corporations, and called for Africa’s food sovereignty and transformation of the industrial food system. The statement condemns the corporate hegemony of food systems, with food systems being depicted as being in need of saviour western technology, productivity and competitive enhancement and the gross power imbalances that corporations hold over food systems. The statement calls for the UN system to address the legitimate concerns raised by civil society and open spaces and meet responsibilities for this in the public sphere at both national and global level.
This recording covers Day 1 of the launch of’ Lessons to Africa from Africa: Reclaiming Early Post-independence Progressive Policies’—a special issue of CODESRIA’s Africa Development journal from Post-Colonialisms Today. The authors share rich archival research on early post-independence Africa policies around industrialization, international solidarity, delinking from colonial currency, and more; and their relevance for today’s development challenges. A Special Issue journal: https://journals.codesria.org/index.php/ad/issue/view/245 provides more detailed information on these policies, and why they hold lessons for today's efforts to disengage from neocolonial realities.
The authors explored and drew learning from how Senegal formulated its policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The response was rapid, comprising conventional policy instruments used previously for containing Ebola. The policy-making process involved several agencies, which resulted in significant leadership and coordination problems. Community participation and engagement with relevant scientific communities were limited, despite their recognized importance in the response. Instead, international funders had a significant influence on the choice of policy tools. The paper contributes to thinking on the autonomy of policy instruments and calls for a review of how academics, civil society, and decision-makers collaborate to design public policies and policy tools based on evidence and context, and not only politics.
This report outlines how far national laws and policies for adolescent contraception in Uganda and Kenya are consistent with WHO standards and human rights law. Of the 93 laws and policies screened, 26 documents were included. Ugandan policies have 6 out of 9 WHO recommendations and miss WHO’s recommendations for adolescent contraception availability, quality, and accountability. Kenyan policies consistently address multiple WHO recommendations, most frequently for contraception availability and accessibility for adolescents and address 8 out of 9 WHO recommendations, except for that on accountability. The current policy landscapes for adolescent contraception in Uganda and Kenya include important references to human rights and evidence-based practice. However the authors suggest that there is still room for improvement, and that aligning national laws and policies with WHO’s recommendations on contraceptive information and services for adolescents may support interventions to improve health outcomes, provided these frameworks are effectively implemented.
This review sought to contribute to literature in this area by exploring how health policy agendas have been transferred from global to national level in sub-Saharan Africa. Nine articles satisfied the eligibility criteria. The predominant policy transfer mechanism in the health sector in sub-Saharan Africa is voluntarism, but there are cases of coercion, albeit usually with some level of negotiation. Agency, context and nature of the issue are key influencers in policy transfers. The transfer is likely to be smooth if it is mainly technical and changes are within the confines of a given disease programmatic area. Policies with potential implications on bureaucratic and political status quo are more challenging to transfer. The authors propose that policy transfer, irrespective of the mechanism, requires local alignment and appreciation of context by the principal agents, availability of financial resources, a coordination platform and good working relations amongst stakeholders. Potential effects of the policy on the bureaucratic structure and political status are also important during the policy transfer process.
In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Africa’s rapid and coordinated response, informed by emerging data, was remarkable. Now, in 2022, as vast vaccination campaigns have enabled the global north to gain some control over the pandemic, Africa lags behind. In principle, Africa could build on the astonishing gains it has made in surveillance and public-health responsiveness to outbreaks in recent years. It could sufficiently invest in commodities to ensure its health security, and position itself as a world leader in fighting infectious diseases. The authors argue that there is no alternative to this. If the continent does not work towards guaranteeing self-sufficiency, it will fail to address the infectious-disease threats of the twenty-first century and to achieve its development goals. In tracing the history of pandemic responses, the authors suggest that historically, efforts to assist Africa have tended to be siloed. They take a top-down approach, with decision-making coming from a central body outside the continent, not from African institutions and experts. Efforts have generally focused on short-term crisis management, not on the kinds of sustainable systems, such as manufacturing capability for diagnostics, that could help Africa to take charge of its health security. To reconfigure to greater self-determination, the authors propose that the continent honour their commitments to allocate at least 15% of their annual budgets to the health sector, strengthen national public-health institutions, and accelerate translational research and development.