Clinicians have long known that microbes such as bacteria, viruses and fungi are becoming alarmingly resistant to the medicines used to treat them. But a global response to this complex health threat — commonly termed 'antimicrobial resistance' — requires engagement from a much broader array of players, from governments, regulators and the public, to experts in health, food, the environment, economics, trade and industry. The authors argue that people from these disparate domains are talking past each other. Many of the terms routinely used to describe the problem are misunderstood, interpreted differently or loaded with unhelpful connotations. In 2017, the United Nations formed an interagency group to coordinate the fight against drug resistance urging that, as one of its first steps, the group coordinate a review of the terminology used by key actors. They proposed that drug-resistant infection be the overarching term used (in English) to describe infections caused by organisms that are resistant to treatment, including those caused by bacteria that do not respond to antibiotics. They also noted that a blame narrative is unhelpful, failing to acknowledge symbiotic relationships with bacteria. Because terminology has geographic, disciplinary and societal variations that affect understanding and interpretation, research is argued to be needed to optimize the lexicon across different countries and languages.
Values, Policies and Rights
A landmark court case, alleging that HIV-positive women were forcibly sterilised in Namibian state hospitals is taking place in Windhoek, Namibia. Human rights groups claim the practice has continued long after the authorities were notified. Three women's cases will be heard initially. Each woman is demanding the equivalent of US$132,000 in damages. 'The first cases emerged during community meetings in early 2008. In the months that followed we interviewed 230 women, 40 of whom were sterilised against their will,' says Veronica Kalambi of the International Community of Women living with HIV (ICW). 'In August 2008 we formally alerted the Ministry during a meeting with the deputy Minister.' The State will argue that consent forms were signed in all three cases. However, the women’s lawyers maintain the process necessary for 'informed consent' was not followed and the women were coerced, or did not understand the procedure.
The authors interrogate the relationship between gender based violence (GBV) and COVID-19 in Uganda through documentary reviews and in-depth interviews from selected key informants. The authors find an increase in cases of GBV that calls for government ministries and agencies to prioritize measures to address the issue. They recommend gender sensitization of communities on GBV and its effects especially in situations of health related emergencies. The authors find that the majority of the fights are heightened by men having limited funds to fulfil their provisioning roles, and recommend that vulnerable households should be identified and provided with food. They also argue that is important to provide women with a platform where they can air their views and concerns about COVID-19 and GBV.
In January 2015, a few days before he would feature as Applicant No 1 in a groundbreaking High Court application for the right to an assisted death, Avron Moss ended his life using medication he had smuggled into South Africa from Mexico. Diagnosed with melanoma, Moss knew when he offered to act as the applicant that it would be a race against time. This article discusses the history and legal and social implications of assisted dying for the terminally ill in South Africa.
Two hundred-and-five African and global organisations and networks have called on the Assembly of Heads of State of the African Union to ensure the Implementation Plan of the AU Africa Health Strategy is urgently and adequately funded, and for the AU Abuja 15% Commitment to health to be implemented by all member states. The Implementation Plan was adopted by African Ministers of Health on the 17 May 2008 following presentation of the Health Strategy last year by the AU Commission Social Affairs Division. It provides guidelines for implementing various African health frameworks, health MDGs and global universal access targets including on TB, HIV and AIDS, malaria, child and maternal health.
The population of older people throughout the world is increasing rapidly, with Africa projected to have about 210 million older people by 2050. In addition to the usual physical, mental and physiological changes associated with ageing, old people in Africa are argued to be particularly disadvantaged due to lack of social security for everyday social and economic needs. This policy framework binds all AU member countries to develop policies on ageing and is being used as a guide in the formulation of national policies to improve the lives of the continent’s older people. The authors argue that advocacy efforts need improve the adaptation and domestication of the policy and encourage appropriate consultations with older people in these processes, including to ensure the allocation of resources for the implementation of commitments. Notably, the International Plan of Action on Ageing agreed upon in Madrid during the Second World Assembly on Ageing in April 2002, borrowed significantly from the AU Policy Framework.
Two hundred and five African and global organisations and networks have called on the Assembly of Heads of State of the African Union to ensure the Implementation Plan of the AU Africa Health Strategy is urgently and adequately funded, and for the AU Abuja 15% Commitment to health to be implemented by all member states. The Implementation Plan was adopted by African Ministers of Health on the 17th of May 2008 following presentation of the Health Strategy in 2007 by the AU Commission Social Affairs Division. It provides guidelines for implementing various African health frameworks, health MDGs and global Universal Access targets including on TB, HIV and AIDS, Malaria, Child and Maternal Health. The Health Strategy Implementation Plan will be presented for final approval to the Assembly of Heads of States meeting in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt on the 30 June and 1 July. In a statement on the eve of the Assembly, Rotimi Sankore Coordinator of the Africa Public Health 15% Now Campaign stated:
"The AU Africa Health Strategy is a landmark document. But without funding for its Implementation Plan from our Heads of State and Finance Ministers, it will be reduced to an empty gesture resulting in even more deaths than the current 8 million African lives lost annually to mainly five health conditions being TB, HIV and AIDS, Malaria, Child and Maternal Mortality."
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were ‘top-down’ goals formulated by policy elites drawing from targets within United Nations (UN) summits and conferences in the 1990s. Contemporary processes shaping the new post-2015 development agenda are more collaborative and participatory, markedly different to the pre-MDG era. This study examines what would the outcome be if a methodology similar to that used for the MDGs were applied to the formulation of the post-2015 development goals (Post-2015DGs), identifying those targets arising from UN summits and conferences since the declaration of the MDGs, and aggregating them into goals. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) list of major UN summits and conferences from 2001 to 2012 was utilised to examine targets. The DESA list was chosen due to the agency’s core mission to promote development for all. Targets meeting MDG criteria of clarity, conciseness and measurability were selected and clustered into broad goals based on processes outlined by Hulme and Vandemoortele. The Post-2015DGs that were identified were formatted into language congruent with the MDGs to assist in the comparative analysis, and then further compared to the 12 illustrative goals offered by the UN High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development (High-Level Panel) Agenda’s May 2013 report. Ten Post-2015DGs were identified. Six goals expressly overlapped with the current MDGs and four new goals were identified. Health featured prominently in the MDG agenda, and continues to feature strongly in four of the 10 Post-2015DGs. However the Post-2015DGs reposition health within umbrella agendas relating to women, children and the ageing. Six of the 10 Post-2015DGs incorporate the right to health agenda, emphasising both the standing and interconnection of the health agenda in DESA’s summits and conferences under review. Two Post-2015DGs have been extended into six separate goals by the High-Level Panel, and it is these goals that are clearly linked to sustainable development diaspora. This study exposes the evolving political agendas underplaying the current post-2015 process, as targets from DESA’s 22 major UN summits and conferences from 2001 to 2012 are not wholly mirrored in the HLP’s 12 goals.
The challenge for human rights academics, activists, and advocates is to make human rights relevant to the issue of privatisation of basic services. The human rights framework must be used to ensure that privatising basic services does not result in the denial of rights. This was identified as one of the challenges at a seminar hosted by the Socio-Economic Rights Project and the Local Government Project of the Community Law Centre on 2–3 October 2003, at the University of the Western Cape. The seminar looked at the privatisation of basic services, democracy and human rights. The need for collaborative efforts with social movements and community organisations for effective use of legal strategies in challenging ill-planned privatisation policies was emphasised.
The South African cabinet has approved a new policy prohibiting discrimination against soldiers and would-be recruits on the basis of their HIV status. Previously, HIV-positive members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) could be excluded from recruitment, international deployment and promotion, but a 2008 high court decision declared such policies unconstitutional and gave the SANDF six months to amend them. The AIDS Law Project (ALP) expressed disappointment about the length of time the SANDF took to comply with the court order and the persistence of unfair discrimination against HIV-positive soldiers and recruits, but in October one of the men, Sergeant Sipho Mthethwa, became the first known HIV-positive soldier to be deployed on international service. The SANDF had argued that people living with HIV were unfit to withstand the stress and physical demands of foreign deployments. An estimated 25% of SANDF employees are HIV positive, higher than the national adult prevalence of 18%.