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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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Neo-natal circumcision not in conflict with Children’s Act of 2005

Much confusion has been generated recently regarding the legality of performing medical male circumcision on boys below the age of 16 in South Africa. This confusion seems to be based on a poor reading of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005. This confusion has caused some providers to be hesitant to perform circumcisions on infant boys, even where the parents have provided consent and slowed down the implementation of programmes ultimately aimed at preventing new HIV infections in the future.

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The South African Child Gauge

The South African Child Gauge is the only publication in the country that provides an annual snap-shot of the status of South Africa’s children.
It is published by the Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town, to track South Africa’s progress towards realising children’s rights.
The latest issue focuses on the theme ‘Healthy children: From survival to optimal development‘.

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The making of ‘A Country For My Daughter’

Director Lucilla Blankenberg, producer Janine Tilley and Nonkosi Khumalo take you through the journey of the making of A Country For My Daughter.
In “A Country For My Daughter” Nonkosi travels around the country investigating the stories of brave women whose court cases have transformed the law in South Africa for the better.

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Social justice organisations denounce the arrest of Sunday Times journalist, Mzilikazi wa Afrika

We are organisations that campaign for social justice. The success of our work is dependent on respect for the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights. The right to free expression and freedom of the press and other media are essential components of democracy. That is why they are contained in the Bill of Rights. They are one of the essential means by which all people in South Africa, especially the vulnerable, exploited and poor, can hold government and the powerful private business sector to account.

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Joint SECTION27 and LRC submission on the draft Constitution Nineteenth Amendment Bill and the Superior Courts Bill

On 15 July 2010, SECTION27, incorporating the AIDS Law Project and the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) made a joint submission on the draft Constitution Nineteenth Amendment Bill and the Superior Courts Bill to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

The Bills propose establishing a single judiciary with the Constitutional Court as the apex court for all legal matters. The submission focuses primarily on the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court; the regulation of the terms of office of judges of the Constitutional Court; and the expansion of the mandate of the Judicial Service Commission.

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SECTION27 leader speaks on AIDS and human rights in China

On Monday 5th July Mark Heywood, the director of SECTION27, was one of the keynote speakers at the launch of China’s first ever forum between the Chinese government and civil society representatives to talk about human rights issues linked to HIV/AIDS. The China Red Ribbon Beijing Forum as it is known was opened by the Vice Minister of Health, Yin Li, UNAIDS and a person living with HIV. Heywood spoke on the importance of engagement between government and civil society on issues of human rights.

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Voluntary Male Medical Circumcision is Safe and Effective: But beware of unsafe devices

The Southern African HIV Clinicians Society and the Treatment Action Campaign support the implementation of a country-wide voluntary male medical circumcision (VMMC) programme. Male medical circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexual men contracting HIV and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Despite the effectiveness of VMMC, it is essential that circumcised men are encouraged to continue using condoms during sexual intercourse.

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HIV/AIDS and the Law Certificate Course Curriculum

HIV/AIDS and the Law is intended to be a practical training course for lawyers, activists and journalists on law in South Africa as it relates to people living with HIV. The course will cover the nature, history and extent of HIV and how to apply legal and policy processes to people living with HIV/AIDS in the areas of Human rights; the Constitution; Employment law; Social assistance and insurance; Access to health care services; Criminal, civil and public impact litigation.

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HIV incidence in South Africa: what is really happening?

Measuring changes in HIV incidence is key to evaluating the effectiveness of prevention interventions – including the provision of antiretroviral treatment (ART), which has been shown to reduce transmission – as well as for quantifying the need for future services, which is important for planning and budgeting.

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Health Department allows patients to get three months of antiretroviral treatment

The Department of Health has given the go-ahead for patients on antiretroviral treatment (ART) to be given three months supply of medicines instead of one month. The TAC and SECTION27 welcome this decision. It will be more convenient for patients because they will have to make fewer trips to their health facility. It will also reduce patient-load on the health system, particularly on health facility pharmacies given the shortage of pharmacists in the public health system. In a memorandum dated 2 July 2010, the Department of Health states, “There is no indication of any legislation prohibiting the supply of medicines for three months to any one patient. This practice should only be implemented once the patient has proved stable on the regimen.”

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Transparency and fairness must be enforced in 2010 ARV tender process

High Court finds part of 2008 ARV tender procedurally unfair
Company with lowest prices unfairly excluded from bidding
Questions raised as to motive for company’s exclusion

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Call on Government to withdraw homophobic statements made by representative to United Nations

A broad range of civil society organisations have called on the South African government to distance themselves from homophobic and unconstitutional comments made by Jerry Matjila, South Africa’s representative at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Matjila said that to protect gay people, “demeans the legitimate plight of the victims of racism”.

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Concerns regarding Indian trade negotiations with EU

Letter to the High Commissioner for India to South Africa: Our concerns regarding Indian trade negotiations with EU.
This letter explains that the prospect of making new ARVs available in South Africa at affordable prices is under threat because of events unfolding in India. In particular, pressure is being applied by the European Union on the Indian government to sign a bilateral trade agreement that will stifle competition on essential medicines still under patent.

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Job Advert: Assistant and Researcher to the Chairperson of the Treatment Action Campaign

Organisation: SECTION27, incorporating the AIDS Law Project

Job title: Assistant and Researcher to the Chairperson of the Treatment Action Campaign

Location: Braamfontein, Johannesburg, South Africa

Dynamic young person passionate about social justice needed to assist in the office of the Chairperson of the Treatment Action Campaign as assistant and researcher.

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Demonstration on 17 June 2010

Call on US government to fund AIDS and health

On 17 June 2010, about 2,000 people representing 16 organisations marched to the United States (US) consulate in Sandton, Johannesburg, to demand that the US leads the way in funding universal access to antiretroviral treatment.

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