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Submission on the Draft Regulations to the Social Assistance Act, 2011

On 14 February 2011, SECTION27 made a written submission on the Department of Social Development’s Draft Regulations under the Social Assistance Act, 2004 (“Draft Regulations”). The Draft Regulations deal with the appeal procedure for aggrieved applicants for social assistance, first to the South African Social Security Agency (“SASSA”) and then to the Independent Tribunal for Appeals (“Tribunal”).
SECTION27 recommended certain procedural and substantive changes to the Draft Regulations that are important for the realisation of the right to social assistance guaranteed by section 27 of the Constitution.

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ASA rules against Christ Embassy

TAC will call on ETV to stop airing their adverts in current form
Join the TAC press conference at 1pm Thursday 3 February, 3rd Floor 122 Longmarket Street, Cape Town.

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What we know about AIDS

What we know about AIDS explains the essential science of HIV succinctly and clearly. It was originally published as a chapter in Debunking Delusions by Nathan Geffen. With the permission of the author, Nathan Geffen, and the book’s publisher, Jacana, aidstruth.org has released this chapter under the Creative Commons Share-Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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South African social justice organisations mourn our courageous queer African martyr: comrade David Kato in Uganda

The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, Treatment Action Campaign and SECTION27 are saddened and outraged to learn of the brutal murder of comrade David Kato in Kampala, Uganda yesterday, 26 January 2011. We join activists in Africa and across the world in condolences to fellow comrades in Uganda, his loved ones, family and friends.

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Report on investigation into infant deaths at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital released

SECTION27 welcomes the release of the report on the investigation into the tragic deaths of six infants on 18 May 2010 at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital (“the Hospital”) in Johannesburg. The report raises serious concerns about the extent to which the Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development (“the Department”) adheres to norms and standards related to human resources, and the consequent overcrowding in public health facilities in the province.

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The Global Health Workforce Alliance launches new website

The Global Health Workforce Alliance announces the launch of a microsite, developed in partnership with the Guardian, to highlight and raise awarenes of the global health workforce crisis ahead of the Second Global Forum on Human Resources for Health, in Bangkok, 25 – 29 January 2011.

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SECTION27 and TAC applaud successful ARV medicine tender

SECTION27 and TAC applauds the successful ARV medicine tender – but call for continued actions to drive prices of essential medicines down further.

SECTION27 and TAC applaud the Minister of Health and his team at the Department of Health (DoH) for their part in conceptualising, implementing and concluding a successful antiretroviral (ARV) medicine tender. Announced yesterday, the 2010 tender – for the period 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2012 – will see the state procuring ARV medicines at or about the best prices available globally.

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University of Johannesburg and MSF Discussion Report – Dialogue 2

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF) and the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ’s) Faculty of Health Sciences have partnered to raise awareness and encourage discussion on public health-related issues through a series of high-level debates. In the second of this series, the panel addressed critical issues from challenges hampering the ability of the public health system to provide treatment, care and support, to legal frameworks and opportunities such as innovative financing mechanisms for global health.

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Judgment reserved in alleged unfair dismissal case (Gary Shane Allpass v Mooikloof Estates)

On December 2nd 2010 judge Urmila Bhoola of the Labour Court reserved judgment in the case of Gary Shane Allpass v Mooikloof Estates (Proprietary) Ltd. Amongst other things, the case concerns the alleged unfair dismissal of a horse riding instructor on the grounds of his HIV status.
The applicant, Mr Gary Allpass, is an award-winning horse rider and instructor who has been living with HIV since 1992. He was represented in court by Advocates Warren Banks and Adila Hassim, who were instructed by Webber Wentzel Attorneys. Hassim is the head of litigation and legal services at SECTION27.

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Minister of Human Settlements misunderstands the Constitution and social justice struggles

Over the past year, the Minister of Human Settlements, Tokyo Sexwale, has been praised for his energy in tackling the housing crisis. He recently signed service delivery agreements with his nine MECS for Outcome 8 of the presidential outcomes – sustainable human settlements and improved quality of household life – and he has been very vocal on what actions will accompany these agreements, as well as the challenges faced by his department. However, some of the Minister’s recent statements (see below) point to a lack of understanding of the reasons for the emergence and existence of informal settlements and illegally occupied inner city buildings. Further, his statements about the legal framework and recent court cases show a disregard for the role of the courts in enforcing the obligations imposed by the Constitution on the state, and in advancing struggles for fundamental rights in a constitutional democracy.

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Call for the immediate release of AIDS and human rights activist, Tian Xi, and other Chinese human rights defenders

Today, SECTION27, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), the Gay and Lesbian Equality Project and COSATU hosted a joint rally outside the Chinese Embassy in Pretoria to demand the immediate release of Tian Xi and other human rights defenders wrongly imprisoned in China. Tian Xi, an AIDS and human rights activist who has been imprisoned since 6 August 2010, was infected with HIV as a child during a surgical operation – a common event in China at the time – and has been actively campaigning for the rights of people so infected to receive compensation from the Chinese government.

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Study proves that a pill a day reduces the risk of HIV infection amongst men who have sex with men

SECTION27 and the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) welcome the results of the Pre-exposure Prophylaxis Initiative (iPrEX) trial. Published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the study is the first to establish that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – taking antiretroviral (ARV) medicines before sex – reduces the risk of HIV infection. It follows closely on the heels of the CAPRISA 004 trial, which demonstrated that the use of tenofovir 1% gel reduced the risk of HIV infection amongst women at increased risk.

The iPrEx trial enrolled 2499 men who have sex with men (MSM) at 11 sites across the world (including Cape Town). Half of the trial participants were randomly assigned to take a daily dose of two ARV medicines – tenofovir disproxil fumarate (TDF) and emtricitabine (FTC) – combined into a single pill. The other half, also randomly assigned, received a daily placebo. All received a comprehensive package of HIV prevention services, including regular HIV testing, risk-reduction counselling, condoms, and the treatment of symptomatic sexually transmitted infections.

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Joint Action and Learning Initiative on National and Global Responsibilities for Health

Joint Action and Learning Initiative on National and Global Responsibilities for Health (JALI) is the beginning of a global coalition of civil society organisations and academia collaborating to challenge inequality in access to health care around the world and to develop strategies to promote and fulfill the human right to health. JALI’s ultimate goal is to develop and see implemented a Framework Convention on Global Health that will serve to guide all countries on their global responsibilities – both individually and collectively – to ensuring access to health care.

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WORLD AIDS Day Protest Planned to demand immediate release of Chinese AIDS & Human Rights Activist, Tian Xi and others

In a show of solidarity and to commemorate World AIDS Day, the Treatment Action Campaign, SECTION27, COSATU and others will be staging a protest on 1 December 2010 at the Chinese Embassy in Pretoria to demand the immediate release of Chinese AIDS activist, Tian Xi and other Human Rights activists detained in China.

Date: 1 December 2010
Where: Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, 972 Pretorius Street, Arcadia, 0083, Pretoria
Time: 11h00

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4th BEMF meeting: Understanding the IST reports

The Budget and Expenditure Monitoring Forum (BEMF) held its fourth meeting on 12 November 2010. It brought together over 30 people from 10 organisations. The forum considered the Integrated Support Team reports, the antiretroviral tender and the future cost of antiretroviral treatment in the public health system. The forum also heard updates on events in the public health system in Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Free State provinces. An update on the TAC/CEGAA community budget monitoring project was also presented.

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Civil Society organisations meeting on 12 November to consider the Integrated Support Team Reports

The fourth Budget and Expenditure Monitoring Forum (BEMF) will take place tomorrow (Friday, 12 November 2010) in Johannesburg. The BEMF draws together individuals and organisations from civil society to focus attention on the state’s health budgeting and expenditure.

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Opportunities at SECTION27

SECTION27 is at the forefront of human rights activism in South Africa. We operate as a public interest law centre and seek to influence, develop and use the law to protect, promote and advance human rights. If you are passionate about human rights and would like to be part of a dynamic team working to challenge legal, political and social systems and positively influence society, working at SECTION27 could be the challenge you have been looking for.

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The ANC should not be scared of independent campaigns against corruption

Statement by the TAC and SECTION27, co-hosts of the Labour/Civil Society conference

The Civil Society Conference held on 27-28 October 2010 will hopefully come to be seen as a historic turning point in South Africa. It may mark the revival of co-ordinated community based activism that aims to achieve social justice and better the lives of the poor in South Africa. It was attended by more than 50 independent organisations that believe in social justice and that fight for it every day.

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First national civil society/labour movement Indaba

Last week SECTION27, TAC and COSATU hosted a historic joint civil-society and labour conference with over 300 participants from 56 civil society organisations.
The two-day meeting consisted of speeches, by COSATU President Sidumo Dlamini and General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi as well as SECTION27 Executive Director, Mark Heywood and Professor Adam Habib…

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ESR Review: Regulating private power in health

by Jonathan Berger and Adila Hassim

On 28 July 2010, Ebersohn AJ of the North Gauteng High Court reviewed and set aside regulations purportedly made in terms of section 90(1)(u) and (v) of the National Health Act 61 of 2003 (NHA). As a result of this judgment, the Regulations Relating to the Obtainment of Information and the Process of Determination and Publication of the Reference Price List (the Regulations) and all related acts – including the determination and publication of the annual national health reference price list (NHRPL) – are now invalid.

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Meeting the challenges of HIV treatment and prevention through independent mobilisation and work through the SA National AIDS Council (SANAC)

On 16 and 17 September 2010, over 60 members of civil society organisations and trade unions met to discuss their work and their efforts – independently and through the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) – to strengthen the national response to HIV and to achieve the goals of the National Strategic Plan (NSP). The aim of the meeting was to define a new agenda going forward for civil society activism both within and independent of SANAC and to focus on our human right to health.

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Submission to Government of India on compulsory licensing

India’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) recently published a discussion paper on compulsory licensing and made a call for interested parties to make submissions. On 7 October 2010, SECTION27 made a submission.

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Report on access to treatment and corruption in Zimbabwe

People living with HIV in Zimbabwe continue to be confronted with corruption and impediments in accessing treatment (which is seldom talked about in our setting). Funders and donors are often not aware that a large proportion of their investment is lost to corruption which is rampant in the health system. The majority of the victims are poor people who live on less that 100USD per day and are expected to pay a significant proportion of their salary on this monthly “corruption tax”.

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Press Release: After the public sector workers’ strike

TAC and SECTION27 call on government and unions to find an urgent solution to the human resource crisis in the health system.

On 6th September 2010 the public sector strike was suspended to allow trade unions to consult their members on whether to accept the government’s revised offer on pay and other conditions. We urge the union members to seriously consider this offer as the public health system cannot afford a return to the strike. We are aware that many workers will regard acceptance of the offer as a compromise and that it may not satisfy public sector workers’ demands for a reasonable standard of living or a salary commensurate with the contribution they make to our society. Nonetheless we believe that it should be accepted.

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IST reports on the state of the health system and the public’s right to know

More than a year after their finalisation and after many frustrated attempts by civil society organisations and the media to access them – including through the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 – SECTION27 and the Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP) have finally been leaked copies of all the provincial reports compiled by the Integrated Support Teams (ISTs). Up to this point, the only report we have received officially is a consolidated report available here. This report is important, but lacks the necessary detail to allow civil society to engage with different challenges in different provinces.

The IST reports on each province were commissioned by the former Minister of Health, Barbara Hogan, in response to the massive budgetary shortfalls that over-whelmed provincial departments of health (PDoHs) in the 2008/2009 financial year, which reached crisis levels when the Free State Department of Health issued a moratorium on the initiation of new patients onto antiretroviral treatment in November 2008. After civil society pressure, that moratorium was finally lifted in February 2009.

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Reports of the Integrated Support Teams

The reports on this page are those of the Integrated Support Teams (ISTs) which have been provided to SECTION27 and the Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP). The IST reports were commissioned by the former Minister of Health, Barbara Hogan, in response to the massive budgetary shortfalls that over-whelmed provincial departments of health (PDoHs) in the 2008/2009 financial year, which reached crisis levels when the Free State Department of Health issued a moratorium on the initiation of new patients onto antiretroviral treatment from November 2008 to February 2009.

10 reports were commissioned in total, one for each provincial department of health and one for the National Department of Health – which we have not been able to access as of yet. In addition, a Consolidated Report was produced that pulled together findings from the individual department reports. These reports contain an honest, sobering assessment of the inadequate financial capacity of provincial departments of health that have led to the development of over R7.5 billion in provincial debt as of April 2009. The findings in these reports reveal fundamental failures in political and bureaucratic leadership, inappropriate financial management systems, inadequate monitoring and evaluation systems, and a failure to plan appropriately for human resources, amongst others.

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A Week into the Public Sector Strike

A week into the public sector strike the Treatment Action Campaign and SECTION27 regret that no agreement has been reached between striking public service workers and the government. We support the demands of workers and their right to strike. But we regret the growing polarisation, pain and loss of life. This is now a political crisis that requires political leadership and a solution.

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Promotional video clip of A Country For My Daughter

In A Country For My Daughter Nonkosi Khumalo travels around the country investigating the stories of brave women whose court cases have transformed the law in South Africa for the better. The cases range from rape within a family to holding the Minister of Safety and Security liable, in cases where police were involved in violence against women. Through these stories, Nonkosi learns of the laws available to protect South African women and how they can be used.

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Continuing the activist dialogue

The politics of South Africa after the World Cup: Strategies for taking forward struggles for equality, dignity and social justice in South Africa

SECTION27 was launched at a conference of activists, legal professionals, and civil society organisations on May 6 – 7 2010. That conference began a discussion on the state of the Constitution, human rights and rule of law in South Africa, and the role that activists, lawyers, and civil society organisations should have in the continued struggle for the realisation of equality and dignity in South Africa.

In continuation of the discussions begun at that conference, SECTION27 hosted an activist dialogue – The Politics of South Africa after the World Cup: Strategies for Taking Forward Struggles for Equality, Dignity and Social Justice in South Africa – on 5 August 2010 to further discuss the links between current politics, the use of human rights law and the Constitution, and struggle.

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Civil Society Organisations Call on Government to Negotiate a Fair Deal for Public Servants

The Social Justice organisations listed below support the right of public sector workers to take industrial action to enforce their demand for a reasonable salary increase and other demands related to their conditions of employment. Quality service delivery depends on a fairly remunerated, motivated and accountable public service.

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