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AAI Tribute to Prudence Mabele: Accountability Champion

Prudence Mabele

AIDS Accountability International pays tribute to Prudence Mabele, a true accountability champion for women’s and girl’s rights and people living with and affected by HIV, who sadly passed away this week.

 

Comrade Pru as she was fondly known has left a legacy and deep footprints in South Africa and globally in the fight against HIV and AIDS and championing the rights of women and girls. As tributes poured in from across the world this week, Prudence has been described as warrior, a global icon, a dedicated, fearless fighter and a committed human rights activist who cared deeply about the communities and the people who she was serving.

 

Anele Yawa, General Secretary of Treatment Action Campaign said about Prudence in an interview “during the days of AIDS denialism, she was among those who stood up to demand for access to ARV treatment in public health care sector for all. When stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS was still high Prudence was amongst the comrades who was running an HIV awareness and education programs.”

 

Prudence’s spirit was larger than life, she had a vision and inner pursuit that drove her to respond to the humanity of people, someone who held herself accountable but also had no qualms with holding governments accountable. She spoke truth to power and said what no else would dare say. She was passionate about young women and girls as reflected through her organisation, Positive Women’s Network.

 

Prudence said in an interview, “The AIDS message will start with us but it can’t stay with us alone, it has to spread to the community and it must always be a non-judgemental one. We have to keep an open mind and be non-judgemental, identify challenges and try and resolve it” She also said “my personal commitment is to truly work with younger women to make sure that they remain an AIDS free generation.”

 

Prudence understood that all struggles are connected and this showed through her work and she understood that people are at the centre of the struggle for human rights.

 

We have lost a great activist, a visionary, a friend and a true leader.  We cannot thank her enough for the legacy she has left behind. We celebrate her life and her work which will be remembered and valued for generations to come.

 

AAI offers our sincere condolences to the Mabele family and the staff at Positive Women’s Network.

 

AAI is seeking a new Executive Director

Position Specification: Executive Director, AIDS Accountability International

24 June 2017

 

INTRODUCTION

 

AAI is seeking to appoint a new Executive Director to lead its secretariat. The Executive Director will be primarily responsible for organizational strategy, advocate with on behalf of the organisation, partner relations, including resource mobilisation, handling the relations with the elected Board and the Chair.
This person will bring a deep understanding of Health, Human Rights and Social Justice issues and having integrity, personal confidence and powerful networking skills. The new ED will complement, harness and channel the professional skills and standing of the staff and the Board to achieve the mission, vision, values and strategic goals of the organization. The ED will represent the organisation at the highest levels in global public health and human rights circles and be spokesperson of the organization and have a crucial role in securing financial resources for AAI.

The ED will be based in Johannesburg and we are seeking a person originating from Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

About AAI

 

AIDS Accountability International (AAI) is an independent research and advocacy think tank organization holding leaders accountable for the commitments they have made to respond to health needs. AAI was established in 2005 with the mission to follow up on commitments to the AIDS epidemic that were made by governments. Our work has since expanded to sexual and reproductive health and rights, malaria, tuberculosis, and non-communicable diseases, as well as underlying causes such as inequality and discrimination. We work on holding all leaders accountable, such as business, civil society, funding partners and bi and multi-lateral development organizations. AAI is non-partisan and non-confessional.

Today we are just under 10 employees located in offices in South Africa, Brussels and Stockholm. The Swedish Secretariat works mainly “remotely” on financial and operational issues, whilst the South Africa office leads on strategy, research and advocacy. Brussels provides resource mobilisation and research and communications support. In 2017 AAI started a five-year Build-programme supported by the Ford Foundation and will expand our staff resources in different areas.

For more information look at the AIDS Accountability International (AAI) website: www.aidsaccountability.org

 

POSITION SPECIFICATION

 

THE ROLE

The Executive Director is the head of AAI secretariat including the research and advocacy offices and an ex-officio member of the Board. The new ED will be responsible for the overall management of the organization, and is charged with implementing its strategic plans under the direction of the governance of the organization. The Executive Director reports directly to the Board and with its Chair as the direct point of contact.

Responsibilities of the Executive Director include:

• Contributing to the development and implementation of the overall vision, mission, values and strategic planning of the organization;
• Leading AAI research and advocacy work together with the Director of Research & Communications;
• Acting as the main fundraiser of the organization, with support from the Resource Mobilisation Manager;
• Financial oversight of the organization with the support of the Director of Finance & Operations;
• Overview of the organization’s Human Resources;
• With integrity, representing AAI at international and regional conferences and meetings as well as in other collaborative initiatives and projects with partners;
• Moving forward the organizational principles of diversity and social responsibility;
• Representing and advocating for AAI externally, including to the media;
• Ensuring the development and maintenance of strong partnerships internationally, regionally and nationally where appropriate, including UN bodies, public/private initiatives, academia, research organizations, governments and importantly a wide variety of civil society organizations;
• Maintaining strong technical knowledge and staying current with issues pertinent to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, other health issues, human rights and social justice.
• Leading and empowering the secretariat; managing the performance and development of staff and organizational change with the support of the other directors.

THE PROFILE

In the new Executive Director, AAI requires someone who understands the major issues in development, global health including the fight against HIV/AIDS and human rights with a strong focus on key populations, specifically LGBTI people, youth, women and children, sex workers and people passing through prisons. They will be a credible and persuasive player at the highest levels and be recognized as a peer by senior colleagues in government; multi-lateral, scientific and civil society contexts.

Along with the leadership characteristics described below, the Executive Director also requires an understanding of the Think-Tank and research roles of AAI. A sophisticated appreciation of the complexities and processes, including diplomacy, firmness and conflict resolution skills involved in multi-partner initiatives is necessary.

BACKGROUND AND EXPERIENCE

Candidates for the role will require

• Minimum 5-year experience in a leadership positions, preferably in civil society;
• Experience from advocacy in human rights, health, social justice, governance, sexual reproductive health and rights;
• Understand the rating work of AAI and its Think-Tank character;
• Experience of managing people and organizations at the highest level;
• A track record of achievement and leadership in the field and an active network among the partners of AAI;
• International experience, a knowledge of the global public health and human rights architecture and its leaders;
• Experience in working in partnership with civil society actors and advocates;
• Knowledge of the commercial world and ability to nurture industry partnerships would be meriting;
• Experience in acting in a representative capacity;
• Visionary and strategic thinking
• Management experience from an international organization;
• Experience of fund-raising and the capacity to engage with non-traditional sources of resource.

SKILLS AND COMPETENCIES

Candidates should possess

• The ability to inspire and engage with a wide range of relevant audiences; personal presence; excellent influencing skills;
• Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English, this person will be an inspiring presenter and ambassador; other languages an asset
• A manifest commitment to the human rights part of the AAI agenda
• The capacity to convey complex messages to lay audiences, as well as interacting meaningfully with expert ones;
• The ability to lead, delegate, develop, retain and manage a diverse team of professionals; good management and delegation skills; and quick and sound people judgement;
• Financial literacy; with the ability to set clear financial direction;
• Research literacy; must understand the core work of AAI
• Strong visionary leadership with demonstrated ability to foster integration and teamwork;
• The breadth of mind to build partnerships across many sectors;
• Willingness to travel extensively
• Optimism and openness to new ideas;
• Sound negotiating skills;
• Sincerity – the genuine and selfless nature of the Executive Director’s commitment to the work of AAI must be palpable.

 

HOW TO APPLY

 

To apply, please send a full CV together with a supporting statement, briefly highlighting your experience and skills against the requirements of the role, to recruitment@aidsaccountability.org.

If you have any questions you can contact the Mats Ahnlund, the Director of Finance & Operations at mats@aidsaccountability.org

The AAI African Child Marriage Snapshot Scorecard

Child_Marriage_LogoChild marriage is a practice that adversely affects girls[1] and usually leads to violations of their human rights[i].

 

The AU Campaign to Eradicate Child Marriages sends out a strong message that, “Child marriage is defined as a formal marriage or informal union before age 18 or any marriage carried out below the age of 18 years, before the girl is physically, physiologically, and psychologically ready to shoulder the responsibilities of marriage and childbearing. Child marriage has devastating and long term effects (health, education, psychological, emotional, mental etc.) on the life and the future of girls. The negative effects of child marriage, include but are not limited to, less education, lower earnings, health complications due to early pregnancy, compromised psychological well-being, intimate partner violence and lack of participation and voice for the girls in their community and society at large[ii]. It is a human rights, gender, health and culture, as well as a development issue.”[iii]

 

According to the AUC Campaign the drivers of child marriage include poverty, discriminatory cultural and religious practices and a lack of political engagement.[iv] Conflict aggravates child marriage, and girls in conflict zones are forced both into marriage but conflict as well. They are unaccounted for due to the core family unit being broken up, and thus have no one searching for them as they are often suspected to be dead.

 

Solutions vary from greater accountability from political leaders, to better and more widespread birth registrations (to determine exact age in order to provide legal protection), providing empowering education, community support and community and religious leader support, economic support for girls and their families, and a consistent and enabling policy environment, amongst others.

 

The AAI Child Marriage Snapshot Scorecard uses an accountability lens to create transparency around data on child marriage in Africa, contribute in a small way to more dialogue by all stakeholders, and inspire further action towards eliminating child marriage in Africa and globally.

 

The AAI African Child Marriages Snapshot Scorecard examines data presented under 4 Elements:

  • Element 1: Data reporting on child marriage prevalence

  • Element 2: Minimum age of sexual consent

  • Element 3: Policy on age of marital consent and ending child marriage

  • Element 4: Budget allocation to education

 

The AAI African Child Marriage Snapshot Scorecard will be launched on July 20th at the International AIDS Conference, and will be uploaded here at that time.

Read the AAI African Child Marriage Snapshot Scorecard here

Launch of two reports on Access to Medicine

In 2015 the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) approved funding for AAI to co-ordinate a new project to promote transparency and accountability initiatives within Southern Africa with a particular focus on access to medicines.

The overall aim of the project is to increase confidence and capacity by citizens through the civil society in selected SADC countries to demand effective and efficient access to medicines services from governments, private sector and funding partners.

 

Mapping Report of Civil Society and A2M – November 2015

As part of the preliminary process in terms of rolling out the new project, during November 2015 a special mapping exercise was conducted to collate information needed for a database of all key organisations actively involved on access to medicines issues across Southern Africa.

In particular, the outcome of the mapping process will seek to provide a map of civil society and other relevant stakeholders who could be engaged in advocacy work focused on the promotion of transparency and accountability issues with regards to access to medicines across Southern Africa.

In general terms, the mapping exercised was spread across all the ten countries that are covered by OSISA. Namely, Angola, Botswana, DRC, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. There was also an analysis of the entire pan African and global organisations that are also active in the region.

Further to that, a special and more detailed mapping exercise was conducted in four of the targeted ten countries. Namely, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This is so because the four countries are set to be the ones most likely to be targeted in terms of the initial advocacy interventions to be conducted under this initiative to promote increased transparency and accountability on access to medicines issues across Southern Africa.

aai-sarpam-access-to-medicines-scorecard-mapping-report

 

The State of Transparency and Accountability on A2M – 2016 

As part of the preliminary process in terms of rolling out the new project, during November 2015 a special survey was designed to collate information needed in the development of a special report focusing on the ‘State of Transparency and Accountability in Access to Medicines in Southern Africa’.

The survey constituted a series of inter-related questions that sought to clarify the situation with regards to access to medicines related issues from an accountability perspective.  Among highlighting some of the key aspects on transparency and accountability with regards to access to medicines in Southern Africa, the survey also sought to establish the status of missed targets by SADC governments

Further, the survey sought to shed more light on the current capacity of civil society to play its role as a trusted and reliable watchdog for society in terms of access to medicines in the SADC region. The responses from the survey developed the basis for this report focusing on the ‘State of Transparency and Accountability in Access to Medicines in Southern Africa’. 

aai-sarpam-access-to-medicine-scorecard-transparency-report

Destabilizing Heteronormativity in Institutions of Higher Learning

universities

On the 11 August 2016 the University of Venda (UNIVEN), in collaboration with the University of the WItwatesrand (Wits) and the University of South Africa ( UNISA), successfully hosted its 1st Annual LGBTI+Q symposium under the theme “DESTABILIZING HETERONORMATIVITY IN INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING”. The symposium, whose objective was to reflect on university policies and practices and to share strategies for navigating heteronormative University spaces, brought together staff members and students. The symposium was opened by the Deputy Vice Chancellor academic, Professor Crafford; a sign that the university managemnet lives by its promise to make UNIVEN a discrimination-free university.

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In his opening, the DVC said, “…when it comes to sexual orientation and differently gendered individuals we find oppression and othering …We must be very clear colleagues that we as a people are only as free as any lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer person amongst is allowed to be free”.  The symposium kicked off with a video presentation by Prof Mzikazi Nduna on Walter Sisulu University’s lesbian students’ experiences of violence at the Mthatha campus.

Prof Mzikazi Nduna

Prof Mzikazi Nduna from Wits University, Psychology department is the leader of the regional project. The project is aimed at increasing regional scholarship on sexual orientation and gender identity in Southern Africa.  The documentary highlights violence used to punish young female students for being lesbian at Walter Sisulu University. This was followed by presentations from UNIVEN, Wits University and UNISA.

Ziggy Nkosi

Ziggy Nkosi (Wits) presented on “Invisible Students”.  He asserts that “Globally, transgender people are invisible and are at times complacent to this invisibility to protect themselves. But this does not address the social injustices they experience”. Just like Ziggy, some young people transition during their time at university; and young transgender students experience lectures and peers who are ignorant and sometimes outright prejudice towards trans* students.

Prof Azwihangwisi

Prof Azwihangwisi Helen Mavhandu-Mudzusi’s (from UNISA) highlighted that “LGBTI +Q identifying students experience violation of the Human Rights of LGBTI, particularly in terms of those which relate to safety, association, education, expression, privacy, and visibility”. She reported that “these rights are repeatedly and frequently violated by heterosexual students and university employees, including academic staff. These have negative impact on academic, social, mental and Physical health of LGBTI + Q students”. UNIVEN has not been spared this. Published research by Prof Mavhandu-Mudzusi reports on these experiences.

Malethabo Sedibe

Malethabo Sedibe, a UNIVEN fourth year student in Environmental sciences and an LGBTI activist, presented on “Gender Neutral Spaces in higher education institutions”.  She believes that “Planning for gender inclusive spaces will help to build a unified society which interacts together without boundaries. Higher education institutions should prepare global citizens who will live in an interconnected world” This is possible, as demonstrated by other South African universities.

Dr Peace Kiguwa

Dr Peace Kiguwa  in her presentation on media response to Wits policy on ‘gender neutral bathrooms spoke about "the Recent focus on re-engaging safe zones on campus for different minority groups such as gender non-conforming and trans community."

 Ms Faith Musvipwa

Ms Faith Musvipwa, a UNIVEN sociology MA student and Dr. Rendani Tshifhumulo presented on “Voicing the challenges of LGBTI within the Vhembe district, Limpopo province, South Africa”. She reported that “Traditional beliefs combined with homophobic stereotypes have resulted in traumatic experiences for lesbian and gay youth in South Africa. Young lesbians have been raped by older males ‘teaching’ them to be real women or ‘curing’ them of lesbianism. Young gay men are beaten by other males in order to make them ‘real men’. Further, ignorance, stereotypes, and lack of medical resources in impoverished communities compound the problems of HIV education and AIDS.

Robert Mohale

Robert Mohale a UNIVEN MA in Gender studies student presented on an exploration of the challenges faced by young people who are in homosexual relationships at Mkhuhlu location, Mpumalanga Province, in South Africa. He decries that “homosexuals are more likely to experience intolerance, discrimination and the threat of violence due to their sexual orientation in all societal institutions, including Schools, universities, churches, police station”.

Tumelo Mashiane

Tumelo Mashiane a UNIVEN MA in Gender Studies student presented on challenges that the effeminate closeted gays are faced with within their families. He asserts that “heteropatriarchy which presents itself as compulsory compels closeted effeminate gays to conform to heteronormativity and are silenced and unacknowledged by the hetero-patriarchal system which perpetuate and forces them to live a double life and putting on a façade”

Cindy Maotoana

Cindy Maotoana, a founder and director of Limpopo PROUDLY OUT emphasized that “We do not hope for change…we implement change…we are change!” Her presentation was a highlight, demonstrating the valuable collaboration of universities and civil society in rights realization. Cindy reminded the audience that this campus has come a long way with acknowledgement of LGBTI rights. In an emotional speech, she reminded the audience that a gathering such as this, free of censorship could not have happened in this campus ten years ago. Now with this project, UNIVEN was able to host this symposium with blessings from the University management.

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The saying ‘nothing for us without us’ was lived at UNIVEN in this momentous day as the symposium was closed with LGBTI+Q Student activists’ panel; presenters and audience discussions were facilitated by the student representation council (SRC) Minister of Gender, Blessing Mavhuru.

SRC Minister of Gender, Blessing Mavhuru

SRC Minister of Gender, Blessing Mavhuru addresses the audience. The main issues raised by the symposium were the invisibility of the LGBTI+Qs, non-conducive environment, LGBTI+Q unfriendly support services, policy exclusion of and lack of institutional support for LGBTI+Q staff and students.

The message for the day was that human rights are homosexual rights too. In this light, infrastructural challenges such as bathrooms and student residences were felt to be non-conducive for the LGBTIQ+ student community and one of the challenges that UNIVEN has when it comes to the safeguarding of LGBTIQ+ student’s rights. The students on this campus, like many others expressed mistrust and living in ‘FEAR’. They also mentioned experiences of discrimination, stigma and rejection within HEIs, communities and employment, which are common experiences for LGBTIQ+ individuals. Hate or homophobic crimes against the LGBTI+Q community was given as real life example of their lived vulnerability in society, while closer to home, they narrated stories of intimidation, harrassment, exploitation, inappropriate jokes and banter, insult and ridicule from lecturers, admin staff, campus health. What was also believed be both impediments and important aspects of their social lives, culture and religion, was analysed as a significant characteristic of their context and an error for intervention.

 

Recommendations

 

The symposium came up with the following recommendations:

  • There is a need for policy change. These should be proactive policies and procedures that address LGBTIQ+ related challenges. Such policies should foster the creation of a conducive and inclusive campus environment. ‘Gender identity’ should added to non-discrimination policies

  • There is also a necessity for the training of staff and student affairs administrators on gender and LGBTI+Q to create strong advocacy units for LGBTI students who are likely to experience obstacles in pursuit of their education.

  • LGBTI+Q-specific services and programs should be introduced. Support groups for trans and gender questioning students should be made available or incorporated into existing LGBTI support structures

  • The transforming and monitoring of on-and-off- campus university residences should be prioritized and advocacy and interventions for gender neutral or unisex restrooms must take place

  • Orientation on LGBTI could be conducted at the beginning of every academic year and benchmarking of best practices from other institutions should be done and followed.

 

This work will be taken forward and a national symposium will be held at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal on the 5th of October 2016. More information about this project can be obtained from Ziggy Nkosi at Ziggy.nkosi@wits.ac.za

 

Authors: Dr Lucille Nonzwakazi Maqubela, Senior lecturer Institute for Gender studies, Dr Pfarelo Matshidze, Senior Lecturer, African Studies, Prof Vhonani Netshandama, Director of community Engagement, University of Venda.

 

Read more about AAI’s Destabilising Heteronormativity Project here:

Destabilising Heteronormativity Project

How to know if your Valentine is a Virgin. Valentines Day 2016

AAI Happy Valentines 2016 How to know if your Valentine is a Virgin.

Ebola crisis: Vaccine ‘too late’ for outbreak

How bad can it get 9UK pharmaceuticals firm GlaxoSmithKline says its Ebola vaccine will "come too late" for the current epidemic.

 

GSK is one of several companies trying to fast-track a vaccine to prevent the spread of Ebola in West Africa.

 

But Dr Ripley Ballou, head of GSK's Ebola vaccine research, said full data on its safety and efficacy would not be ready until late 2015.

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) says more than 9,000 people have been infected and more than 4,500 have died.

 

Health workers are struggling to contain the spread of the virus, which is mostly affecting people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

 

The WHO has warned there could soon be 10,000 new cases a week.

 

Leading experts who have previously tackled Ebola believe the only way to contain the outbreak is with a vaccine.

 

Several trials

Prof Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, first discovered Ebola in 1976. He is worried that the outbreak could last well into next year.

 

"Then only a vaccine can stop it, but we still have to prove that this vaccine protects, we don't know that for sure," he said

 

There are several vaccine trials under way. The Public Health Agency in Canada has started human testing, and a Russian project is planning to do the same.

 

At GSK's vaccine research laboratories outside Brussels, they are trying to compress trials that would normally take up to 10 years into just 12 months.

 

They have already given the vaccine to volunteers taking part in the trial in Africa, the US – where they are working alongside the National Institute of Health – and the UK.

 

'Small sacrifice'

Volunteer Nick Owen was injected two weeks ago at the centre for Vaccinology and Tropical Medicine in Oxford and will have regular check-ups for the next six months.

 

He said he had not hesitated to take part.

 

"It's a horrific disease, it's unimaginable what people are going through and it seemed like a really small sacrifice to make," he said.

 

In the next phase of the trial, the company hopes it will have 20,000 doses ready to be tested by health workers early next year.

 

When the outbreak was first declared in March, GSK had discussions with the World Health Organization about accelerating the development of the Ebola vaccine, Dr Ballou said. But they had decided, together, not to.

 

"No-one anticipated we would need a vaccine," said Dr Ballou. "And so both internally and, I think at the WHO, we felt the best approach was to watch very closely".

 

Seven months on, with the virus out of control, he now concedes: "I think in retrospect we should have pulled that trigger earlier.

 

"But, you know, it is what it is and we are working very closely with WHO.

 

"There shouldn't be any finger pointing around this."

 

Dr Ballou said it would now take some time to assess all of the data to establish the correct dosage and for how long the vaccine was effective. He said that could not be done in time for this latest epidemic.

 

"At the same time we have to be able to manufacture the vaccine at doses that would be consistent with general use, and that's going to take well into 2016 to be able to do that," he added.

 

"I don't think this can be seen as the primary answer to this particular outbreak," he said, but the trials under way could help in the future.

 

"If it does work then to be able to be prepared so that we don't have to go through this again in five years, or whenever the next epidemic is going to break out."

 

Even if GSK's vaccine does not work, other Ebola vaccines being developed by researchers in Canada and Japan could provide hope for future outbreaks.

 

By Simon Cox

17 October 2014

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-29649572

We Can’t Have a Post-2015 Agenda Without SRHR

In 2000, the creators of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) completely overlooked sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), a mistake that, if repeated, would cripple the dreams of millions of young girls and women for years and generations to come.

 

Access to SRHR enables individuals to choose whether, when, and with whom to engage in sexual activity; to choose whether and when to have children; and to access the information and means to do so. To some, these rights may be considered an everyday reality. However, that is not the case for millions of young people in the world – particularly girls and women.

 

On Tuesday night, I had the fantastic opportunity to listen to some of the foremost global leaders speak on behalf of ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health and rights in the post-2015 agenda. The benefits of ensuring SRHR are society wide and inevitably translate into improved education, economic growth, health, gender equality, and even environment.

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Education

 

“At my high school, you would be expelled if found with a condom.” – Samuel Kissi, former President, Curious Minds Ghana

 

When girls are healthy and their rights are fulfilled, they have the opportunity to attend school, learn life skills, and grow into empowered young women. Wherever girls’ SRHR are ignored, major educational barriers follow. Child marriage and early pregnancy are major contributors to school dropout rates. In South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, girls are married before age 18 at an alarming 50 percent and 40 percent respectively. And in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 90 percent of adolescent pregnancies occur in marriage, it is safe to assume that not all those sexual acts were consensual and not all those pregnancies were planned.

 

Economic Benefits

 

“Initially I used to oppose family planning, but now I fully support. I support it because my wife has more time to work and earn money.” – The Honorable Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Minster of Foreign Affairs for the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, sharing the story of an Ethiopian man’s changed opinion regarding the importance of SRHR

 

Protecting SRHR not only saves lives and empowers people, but it also leads to significant economic gains for individuals and for the community as a whole. As previously stated, ensuring SRHR helps to decrease school dropout rates and, as a result, leads to a more productive and healthy workforce as each additional year of schooling for girls increases their employment opportunities and future earnings by nearly 10 percent.

 

Broader Health Agenda

 

“We cannot eliminate new HIV infections without providing SRHR services to women so they can make informed decisions to protect themselves and their children in the future. Yes, we will end the AIDS epidemic, but first we need to respect the dignity and the equality of women and young girls.” – Dr. Luiz Loures, Deputy Executive Director, UNAIDS

 

Access to SRHR guarantees quality family planning services, counseling and health information. These services are critical, particularly because women are often victims of gender-based violence and sexual assault and thereby face greater risks for sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS. Failing to secure and uphold SRHR dooms women and girls with an increased risk of unsafe, non-consensual sex and maternal mortality.

 

Gender Equality

 

“How can you control your life if you cannot control your fertility?” – Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator

 

When a woman can easily plan her family, she is more equipped to participate in the economy alongside her male colleagues. When the sexual rights of a woman or girl are fulfilled, she will experience decreased rates of sexual violence and enjoy a healthy relationship with a respectful partner. When a woman or girl does not fall victim to child marriage and early pregnancy, she can stay in school and achieve anything she puts her mind to.

 

Environment

 

“The woman continues to bring life, to bring up the next generation, to stand before you and say, ‘I am ready to embrace my rights and to deliver a better planet to humanity.’” – Joy Phumaphi, former Minister of Health, Botswana; Chair, Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health

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A 2012 study found that community water and sanitation projects designed and run by women are more sustainable and effective than those that are not. Similarly, women produce 60 to 80 percent of food in developing countries and, with the economic and educational gains that coincide with secured SRHR, a woman is better equipped to effectively manage her land.

 

The post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals will not happen without SRHR being addressed. So far, the world has failed to recognize that SRHR are equally as fundamental to global development as finance and trade. We can no longer afford to view SRHR as a taboo or promiscuous topic. When 90% of first births in low-income countries are to girls under 18; when the leading cause of death among adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 is pregnancy and childbirth; when two-thirds of new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa are among adolescent girls; and when 200 million women want to use family planning methods but lack access, the young girls and women of the world do not have a promiscuity problem – they have a human rights problem.

 

By Elisabeth Epstein

25 September 2014

Source: http://girlsglobe.org/2014/09/25/we-cant-have-a-post-2015-agenda-without-srhr/

Experts demand strong, public, SA government support for proposed ECHO trial

The South African HIV Prevention Research Advocacy Expert Group  & partners are writing to request strong, public, SA government support for the proposed ECHO trial which we understand to be in jeopardy of cancellation.
    

26th September 2014: World Contraception Day


SOLIDARITY STATEMENT TO :

Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health, South Africa
Prof. Glenda Gray, President – Medical Research Council of South Africa
Dr. F. Abdullah, Chief Executive Officer, South African National AIDS Council

The South African HIV Prevention Research Advocacy Expert Group  & partners are writing to request strong, public, SA government support for the proposed ECHO trial which we understand to be in jeopardy of cancellation—a development that would be a blow to SA AIDS and reproductive health programming on the status of the Evidence for Contraceptive Options & HIV Outcome (ECHO) Trial. We strongly believe that the ECHO trial could be one of the most important reproductive health and HIV trials of this decade and further strengthen South Africa’s position on the global stage as a leader in generating scientific evidence that has meaningful impact on improving the lives and wellbeing of all its citizens, especially women via informed, innovative programming.


The ECHO Trial has the potential to provide high quality, evidence based answers to questions about whether three specific contraceptive options (Depo Provera, the Jadelle implant and the copper intrauterine device) might increase women’s risk of HIV acquisition. These questions are of utmost relevance to South Africa. Excluding condoms, injectable contraceptives make up nearly 75% of the contraceptive methods dispensed in South Africa. Within this, the majority of women are receiving Depo. Modeling studies designed to gauge the impact on HIV infections in a scenario where Depo does increase risk, show that the highest burden of new infections attributable to this method is in South Africa. 


The RSA’s new contraceptive policy stresses an increase in the range of options offered to women, and a shift away from Depo based on the current uncertainty regarding its impact on HIV risk. These are key steps and we believe they should proceed with urgency. However, there are no data on the other hormonal methods, such as the implant, that are being introduced today. ECHO will provide an answer for multiple methods—not just Depo—laying the basis for sound public health policy and clear communication. 


We seek to engage with you on ways in which we may see the full funding of the trial to ensure that it takes place. At present, there is a funding shortfall. Unless additional funds are committed, the trial may not take place We welcome South Africa’s current financial commitment to the trial and ask that you consider increasing this amount as well as making a strong, public statement that this research is a priority for our country and the region.


We the undersigned therefore stand in solidarity with the women of South Africa, one of the Sub Saharan countries with the widest use of depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) in encouraging our Department of Health, the Medical Research Council, and the South African National AIDS Council to ensure that the ECHO trial is fully funded – as a national imperative, especially as a country whose response to and recent leadership in the national response to HIV is world renowned. 


As we move forward to urgently explore ways to mobilise South African’s en masse to express their support for this trial to be fully funded, and trial recommendations urgently acted upon, we wish to categorically state that our expectation is that our Government in partnership with the Medical Research Council fill the funding gap that is needed to get the ECHO trial underway, not only as a public health imperative, but as an urgent human rights issue.

Media Contact:  Tian Johnson , +27 73 4324069 , tian@genderjustice.org.za 

The SA HIV Prevention Research Advocacy Expert Group has been established to provide senior level advocates and programme leaders a platform to: enhance their individual capacity relating to all aspects of HIV Prevention Research, build the capacity of key individuals in their organization and circles of influence including policy makers, donors and strategic partners on issues of HIV Prevention Research, accelerate the pace and level of public discourse around HIV Prevention Research Advocacy as it pertains to existing as well as potential technologies in their conceptualization, development, trial, piloting, procurement, distribution & marketing stages, serve as a point of entry and access to the HIV Prevention Research Science communities for advocates. 

The SA HIV Prevention Research Advocacy Expert Group is:

Dr. Ntlotleng Mabena – Centre for HIV & AIDS Prevention Studies


Ntando Yola – Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation


Sisonke Msimang – Graca Machel Trust


Phillipa Tucker – AIDS Accountability International


Dr. Johanna Kehler – AIDS Legal Network


Tian Johnson – Sonke Gender Justice

Ebola death toll reaches 2,288, says World Health Organization

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed 2,288 people, with half of them dying in the last three weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

Ebola 1

It said that 47% of the deaths and 49% of the total 4,269 cases had come in the 21 days leading up to 6 September.

The health agency warned that thousands more cases could occur in Liberia, which has had the most fatalities.

The outbreak, which was first reported in Guinea in March this year, has also spread to Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

In Nigeria, eight people have died out of 21 cases, while one case of Ebola has been confirmed in Senegal, the WHO said in its latest update.

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'Latter-day plague'

On Monday, the agency called on organisations combating the outbreak in Liberia to scale up efforts to control the outbreak "three-to-four fold".

Ebola spreads between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments.

However, the WHO says conventional means of controlling the outbreak, which include avoiding close physical contact with those infected and wearing personal protective equipment, were not working well in Liberia.

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The reason for this remains unclear; however, experts say it could be linked to burial practices, which can include touching the body and eating a meal near it.

There are also not enough beds to treat Ebola patients, particularly in the capital Monrovia, with many people told to go back home, where they may spread the virus.

Sophie-Jane Madden, of aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres, told the BBC that health workers at the largest treatment centre in Monrovia were completely overwhelmed: "Our teams are every day turning away people who are desperately seeking healthcare."

ebola 4

Meanwhile, the US says it will help the African Union mobilise 100 African health workers to the region and contribute an additional $10m (£6.2m) in funds to deal with the outbreak.

The announcement comes as a fourth US aid worker infected with the deadly virus was transported to a hospital in Atlanta for treatment.

The identity of the aid worker has not yet been revealed.

Two other aid workers who were treated at the same hospital have since recovered from an Ebola infection.

Separately on Tuesday, the UN's envoy in Liberia said at least 80 Liberian health workers had died from Ebola, according to the Associated Press.

Karin Landgren described the outbreak as a "latter-day plague" that was growing exponentially. She added that health workers were operating without proper protective equipment, training or pay, in comments to the UN Security Council.

By BBC News Africa

9 September 2014

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29131065