The Network of African Parliamentary Committees of Health (NEAPACOH), previously known as the Southern and Eastern Africa Parliamentary Alliance of Committees on Health (SEAPACOH)) is one of the active networks engaging members of parliament in Africa to strengthen the delivery of their functions of oversight, legislation and representation, in tackling health challenges in the region. This study sought to understand NEAPACOH’s contributions in strengthening parliamentary committees in Africa to tackle health and population challenges, and identify ways in which the network can become more effective in the delivery of its mandate. Given the integral role of information or evidence in the delivery of the parliamentary functions, the study had a special interest in understanding how the network promotes evidence-informed discharge of the health committee, to generate learning needed to strengthen NEAPACOH as well as inform future efforts aimed at strengthening the delivery of parliamentary functions in Africa.
Governance and participation in health
The term “urban political describes a critical approach to studying cities across a number of areas, from environmental issues (such as climate change, air pollution, and nature conservation) to urban flows (such as sanitation and electricity provision). Many scholars believe that there is a need for a more explicitly political approach to these topics that draws attention to who wins and who loses as cities change, as well as to how urbanization as a process is shaped by power relations. These ideas informed the Urban Political Ecology in African Cities Workshop, Pretoria South Africa held in September 2014, organized by the Situated Ecologies collective (SUPE). The report presents discussions on options for scholars and residents in cities of Africa and the global South to integrate power relations in their work on urban change.
The author argues that destruction of the environment, human rights abuses and mass displacement have been ignored in the name of “development” that works to intensify neoliberal inequality. In response to legal attempts to hold it to account, the author argues that the World Bank has declared itself above the law. The latest attempt at accountability is a lawsuit filed in the U.S. federal court in Washington by EarthRights International, a human rights and environmental non-governmental organisation, charging that the World Bank has turned a blind eye to systematic abuses associated with palm-oil plantations in Honduras that it has financed. EarthRights International alleges that the World Bank has “repeatedly and consistently provided critical funding to Dinant, Honduran palm oil companies, knowing that Dinant was waging a campaign of violence, terror, and dispossession against farmers, and that their money would be used to aid the commission of gross human rights abuses.” The lawsuit reports that the International Finance Corporation’s ombudsman said the World Bank division “failed to spot or deliberately ignored the serious social, political and human rights context.” These failures arose “from staff incentives ‘to overlook, fail to articulate, or even conceal potential environmental, social and conflict risk’ and ‘to get money out the door.’ ” Despite this internal report, the suit says, the World Bank continued to provide financing and that the ombudsman has “no authority to remedy abuses.”
The WHO Executive Board is composed of 34 members technically qualified in the field of health. Members are elected for three-year terms. The main Board meeting, at which the agenda for the forthcoming Health Assembly is agreed upon and resolutions for forwarding to the Health Assembly are adopted, is held in January, with a second shorter meeting in May, immediately after the Health Assembly, for more administrative matters. The main functions of the Board are to give effect to the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly, to advise it and generally to facilitate its work. The full set of documents under consideration at the 138th WHO Executive Board meeting are available online at the organisation's website.
South Africa has continued to face questions about the recent xenophobic violence directed at African immigrants. The issue was raised during a discussion on migration on the side-lines of the 37th Session of the South African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum meeting at Zimbali north of Durban. Lawmakers, experts and government officials were among those who participated in the discussion on migration. At least seven people were killed and thousands others displaced from their homes during attacks on foreign nationals that started in KwaZulu-Natal in April. Speakers called for the movement of people around the continent - including of South Africans - to be encouraged. The Director of the United Nations African Institute for Economic Development and Planning, Professor Adebayo Olukoshi, argued that African countries need to take a developmental approach to migration policies - in the same way that countries like the US have done. A South African provincial special reference group led by former UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay is looking into the causes of xenophobic violence and what should be done to prevent it from re-emerging. The group is expected to conclude its work in October.
More young South Africans are heeding safe sex campaigns and cutting their chances of getting AIDS or the HIV virus which causes it, a new survey said last month, heartening the nation worst hit by the pandemic. But despite the promising trend the survey highlighted high infection levels among young children. It also urged the government to act quickly to give people with HIV the anti-retroviral drugs which can slow the onset of AIDS.
Third World Network, Oxfam International and Health Gap Coalition are launching a global online petition which we hope will demonstrate the strength of global public support for WTO patent rules that put people before the profits of powerful drug companies. The petition is addressed to George Bush as a leading international figure whose government is blocking changes and clarifications to the TRIPS Agreement that would mean cheaper medicines for people in developing countries. The petition will run from September 1st through to the WTO Ministerial in Quatar in November where it will be handed over to the US Government. Sign and support the petition which is online at the Oxfam website.
Since independence, Parliament and its processes have been treated by young people as something alien to them, their needs, views and aspirations. As a result, for years the youth has had certain conceptions, some true and some false over the business that is conducted within the walls of parliament in Harare. As such, the author argues that Zimbabwean youths’ views were never put into consideration, decisions with a direct bearing on them were made without their input, simply put, the youth saw Parliament business in Zimbabwe as having nothing of interest to them and as a mere preserve for the older generation. However, all this is set to be a thing of the past. Parliament debates, bills, thrills, spills and lighter moments will soon be easily accessible in just a few clicks on a smartphone, anywhere, anytime, thanks to OpenParlyZW, an online non-partisan initiative created by a group of enthusiastic youths with the aim of bridging the gap and demystifying misconceptions existing between the youth and Parliamentarians. The group believes that to move forward the youth need to be a part of this conversation and should at least know what’s going on in the houses of power and participate in the future of the nation. OpenParlyZW will run as a standalone platform but also on Twitter and Facebook among other social media platforms capturing events each time Parliament sits and providing young people with vital information.
This guide explores a number of different themes related to youth participation in development: governance, voice and accountability, post-conflict transition and livelihoods, and sexual and reproductive health. In the sexual and reproductive health section, several examples of youth-focused health initiatives from Uganda are discussed, such as Uganda's National Development Plan and the Youth Empowerment Programme. Another health initiative, Young, Empowered and Healthy (Yeah) is a sexual health campaign for and by young people in Uganda was launched in 2004 under the auspices of the Uganda AIDS Commission and uses radio and other media to reach youth.
Each year, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) holds a special Southern Africa Civil Society Forum. The 13th annual Forum took place in mid August in Johannesburg. Members of the SAIIA Youth Policy Committee and alumni of the SAIIA Young Leaders Conference were there, to provide an eye-witness account of the proceedings. Civil society is defined as a ‘community of citizens linked by common interests and collective activity.’ This was evident at the 13th SADC Civil Society Forum from day one.
The Forum serves as a platform for civil society organisations from all over the region to meet and consolidate their stance, which is then presented as a declaration to the SADC secretariat. The theme for this year’s forum was ‘Building People’s Organisations, Securing Our Common Future, Consolidating Our Gains and Confronting Our Challenges’. These four blogs present the voice and reflections of young people attending various sessions at the Forum.