SECTION27 to host groundbreaking Southern African Regional Activist Dialogue on Strengthening Campaigns for the Right to Health and why we need a UN Framework Convention on the Right to Health

This year a million people will die of HIV in Eastern and Southern Africa. Hundreds of thousands more will die of easily preventable diseases. Infant and maternal mortality remains intolerably high across the region. This situation demands an enhanced and urgent response to health, yet health systems are under enormous strain, many governments are lukewarm in their response to health and international donor assistance is flagging or going into reverse, particularly the commitment to fund universal access to HIV treatment.

To discuss this crisis and to develop campaigns to end it, on 25 and 26 March 2011, SECTION27 will be bringing together 60 activists and experts from 15 countries, mostly in Southern Africa but also India and Brazil to discuss how to strengthen, publicise and unite campaigns for the right to health.  The activists come from over 35 organisations, including health movements, trade unions and organisations such as Greenpeace. They will gather to discuss the state of campaigns for health in the region, what barriers they face and how to strengthen and unify campaigns around a new vision for achieving the right to health internationally – and in our lifetimes.

The meeting will bring together community activists, respected academics and seasoned campaigners for the right to health. Amongst the participants are Anand Grover, the UN Special Rapporteur for Health; Vuyiseka Dubula, the General Secretary of TAC;  Stephen Lewis, former UN Special Envoy on AIDS in Africa; and Larry Gostin, director of the O’Neil Institute for Global Health at Georgetown University.

Although this is a civil society movement, we intend to build alliances with developing country governments, who we will insist provide greater leadership in demanding equity and resources for health internationally. For this reason, the dialogue will also include addresses from Dr Gwen Ramokgopa, the Deputy Minister of Health and Dr Precious Matsoso, the Director General for the Department of Health. We are also fortunate to have representatives of the Brazilian National Health Council.

We aim, through this consultation, to ensure that AIDS treatment targets are met, that other causes of illness and death get the resources and political prioritisation they require, and that the right to health becomes a reality, not a perpetually postponed promise. We will discuss how to protect targets for HIV treatment and how to raise the response to other diseases to that achieved thus far with AIDS. We aim to begin a process of developing greater commitment and renewed action for the implementation of the right to health in the southern African region and for equality in access to health globally.

Journalists are welcome to attend.

Dates:   25 March 2011, 10.00 – 17.00 , 26 March 2011, 09.00 – 14.00

Place: Atlas Studios, corner Frost Ave and Owl St, Milpark, Johannesburg.

The draft programme for the consultatation is attached.

For more information, please contact Varsha Lalla on 083 565 5151 or lalla@section27.org.za