No more excuses. We need bold feminist-led action to end gender inequities, confront taboos around women’s sexuality and stop denying women their basic freedoms and autonomy regarding their own bodies and life choices.”

Winnie Byanyima, from the foreword of the new UNAIDS report ‘We’ve got the power’.

Winnie Byanyima, an engineer by training, is the Executive Director of UNAIDS and a champion for the rights of women, children and people living with HIV and AIDS.

Monday 9 March

SECTION27 team members Solanga Milambo, Kholofelo Mphahlele and Boitumelo Masipa will be conducting Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and Sexual Violence workshops for learners at Utjane Primary School in the Capricorn district of Limpopo. Workshops at Baropodi Primary school and Lamdzandvo Secondary School in the Sekhukhune district on 10 and 11 March will follow respectively.

Tuesday 10 March 

SECTION27 will convene the second civil society meeting on National Health Insurance. The meeting brings together activists from organisations such as the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), the Rural health advocacy project (RHAP), the People’s Health Movement (PHMSA) and Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (NCD Alliance), to further collaboration on advocacy related to NHI following the various submissions to Parliament on 29 November 2019. It will take place at SECTION27 at 87 De Korte Street in Braamfontein from 10:00 to 14:00.

Wednesday 11 March

Patrick Mdletshe and Selby Mgadi will attend the Kwa-Zulu Natal provincial AIDS Council Meeting, where civil society and government officials will track the implementation of the provincial plan on HIV, Tuberculosis and Sexually Transmitted Infections. Civil society will meet between 9am and 12h00, after which the meeting with the AIDS council continues until 17h00.

12 – 13 March

Sheniece Linderboom, Thembi Mahlathi and Solanga Milambo will facilitate Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and Sexual Violence workshops for learners at Reabilwe and Eiland Primary Schools in the Waterberg District in Limpopo.

Friday 13 March 

Members of the Eastern Cape Health Crisis Action Coalition will meet with representatives from the Eastern Cape Department of Health to discuss addressing the ongoing health crisis in the province. Issues to be addressed include emergency medical services, infrastructure projects for health facilities and ongoing stockouts of essential medication and medical equipment.

 

In the week that was: 

SECTION27 Head of the Education Rights Programme, Faranaaz Veriava, and Head of Health Rights Programme Sasha Stevenson will co-hosted a strategic litigation seminar titled: “Socio-economic rights litigation in the time of austerity and state capture.” With partners from across civil society, the seminar drew on local and international lessons for strategic litigation on and legislation for upholding rights to health and basic education. SECTION27 will publish findings and recommendations from this seminar in the next few weeks.

SECTION27 filed affidavits in the Limpopo High Court and the Pietermaritzburg High Court on the issues of school Sanitation and Transport respectively. The sanitation case aims to continue the work SECTION27 has undertaken to do in Limpopo to ensure that the provincial department of education delivers a plan to eradicate pit toilets in a reasonable period. The transport affidavit was filed after the KwaZulu Natal department of education failed to meet the terms of the court settlement reached in November 2017 to provide transport for learners with disabilities in the province.

Following numerous requests from doctors seeking advice about regulations on migrant health, as well as increased numbers of migrants seeking SECTION27’s help regarding accessing healthcare, the SECTION27 health team met with doctors and administrative staff at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg to discuss migrant health rights on 6 March 2020. SECTION27 members engaged with medical practitioners and hospital administrators about the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented people to healthcare under the current legislative framework. The team advised the doctors and staff how to advocate for migrant health rights through their work.

The Motsepe Foundation recognised SECTION27 Researcher Thuthu Mbatha for her work in Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights at the International Women’s Day summit on Friday 6 March.

 

In Spotlight

OPINION: Community-led monitoring is a breakthrough in our HIV response

Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) General Secretary, Anele Yawa and Lotti Rutter, Associate director of International Policy at Health GAP, demonstrate the importance of on-the-ground community monitoring of the quality and accessibility of HIV and TB services. They use new data from ‘Ritshidze’ community monitors around the country – on the length of queues, staff shortages, staff attitudes dysfunctional administrative systems in hospitals and adherence strategies – to hold decision-makers accountable for promises advocate for better healthcare services.

https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/03/03/opinion-community-led-monitoring-is-a-breakthrough-in-our-hiv-response/

 

IN-DEPTH: What the budget means for healthcare in South Africa

Alicestine October brought Tito Mboweni’s budget under the microscope to explicate what it means for the healthcare sector. Questions about the ability to implement the National Health Insurance in light of R3.9billion reduction of health budget over the medium term were raised. In general, funding and accounting mechanisms for health were scrutinised. However, activists welcomed the R800million allocated to community healthcare workers as an important investment.

https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/03/03/in-depth-what-the-budget-means-for-healthcare-in-south-africa/

 

COVID-19 COVERAGE:

Spotlight has followed the spread of COVID-19 or Corona Virus around the world, and its first confirmed diagnosis in South Africa carefully. Here’s the latest coverage from this past week:

 

Wuhan Diaries: Student tells of lockdown, bad food and the fear of the imminent quarantine

Spotlight reached out to South African students in Wuhan, China, awaiting repatriation and spoke to them about their experiences of quarantine.

https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/03/04/wuhan-diaries-student-tells-of-lockdown-bad-food-and-the-fear-of-the-imminent-quarantine/

 

MPs question minister on COVID-19 ahead of Parly debate

Before the first confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, members of parliament questioned the Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, about South Africa’s preparation for infection prevention and control. The minister stressed that the healthcare system in South Africa was ready and capable to deal with the then-potential spread of the virus to our shores and sought to dispel widespread mistrust of the ministry.

https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/03/04/mps-question-minister-on-covid-19-ahead-of-parly-debate/

 

First person in South Africa tests positive for COVID-19 virus; and Experts welcome government response to SA’s first COVID-19 case

In these two articles, the Spotlight team commented on the announcement of the first confirmed diagnosis of Corona Virus in South Africa, and what this means going forward. Reporters interviewed health specialists on the processes of screening, infection prevention and control and self-quarantine and analyse South Africa’s readiness for the pandemic.

https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/03/05/first-person-in-south-africa-tests-positive-for-covid-19-virus/

https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/03/05/experts-welcome-government-response-to-sas-first-covid-19-case/

 

Non-Communicable Diseases set to knock SA off its feet, warns Health Minister

A day before Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced the first confirmed COVID-19 case in South Africa, researchers met with the Ministry to zoom in on a different, but gravely concerning issue in the country: Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular diseases, which are one of the top ten causes of mortality in SA. Minister Mkhize urged researchers to innovate the management and treatment of NCDs.

https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/03/06/non-communicable-diseases-set-to-knock-sa-off-its-feet-warns-health-minister/