VALUES, POLICIES AND RIGHTS
THE PLIGHT OF LGBTI ASYLUM SEEKERS AND REFUGEES
IRIN News: 7 May 2013
Refugees and asylum seekers face a host of challenges when crossing borders, but the obstacles are particularly pronounced for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex (LGBTI) persons, according to this article. LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees face a range of threats, risks and vulnerabilities throughout the displacement cycle, said the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). In situations of upheaval or conflict, sexual and gender minorities have become targets for scapegoating or “moral cleansing” campaigns, compounding the inherent vulnerability created by unrest. Activists say that security in refugee camps is complicated and contingent on numerous, unpredictable factors, which are exacerbated for LGBTI persons. Sexual abuse is common, but often goes unreported because the right questions are not being asked, and because survivors of sexual violence are reluctant to report events that will “out” them to legal authorities. This discrimination impacts negatively on LGBTI’s ability to access basic health services for fear of exposure and discrimination.
WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT PRINCIPLES
GROW: Oxfam, 17 May 2013
While gender equality is enshrined in the 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights, in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and in legislation in most countries, women’s conditions of participation in markets and their rewards from that participation, still remain woefully unequal to men’s. Many women work in temporary or informal positions and are therefore “invisible” to laws and regulations. Women also currently bear a disproportionate share of household and domestic labour performing 80% of unpaid care work. Business can’t solve all these problems alone, but corporate practice can either, aggravate and perpetuate gender inequality, or it can help lead the way to for equality among men and women. This article discusses the Women’s Empowerment Principles, which are a set of Principles for business offering guidance on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. The seven principles are: 1. Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality. 2. Treat all women and men fairly at work – respect and support human rights and non-discrimination. 3. Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers. 4. Promote education, training and professional development for women. 5. Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women. 6. Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy. 7. Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality.
FOCUSING THE SPOTLIGHT ON LACK OF ACCESS TO HEALTH INFORMATION
Editorial: PLoS Medicine 10(4), 30 April 2013
The challenge of improving healthcare information in countries with meagre resources will require more than just highlighting insufficiencies, according to this editorial. The right to access health information is a key component of a strong health system, but to be effective it requires evaluation and synthesis of evidence, translation of evidence into educational materials, and implementation and dissemination. Health information is one key component of the complex task of improving weak health systems, along with cooperation, political will, and funding. If governments are legally obliged to support the right to access reliable health information, what can be done to ensure that they do so? It is unlikely that governments will be held legally responsible for not ensuring that health information is available to their citizens and health workers, and a legal approach would be inappropriate in most cases. Furthermore, it is unrealistic to expect governments to react quickly to calls for change. However, by placing access to reliable health information into the broader human rights framework it may be possible to benefit from the momentum already generated by human rights organisations.
TROUBLE BREWING: AFRICA AND ALCOHOL PROBLEMS
Lythgoe L: ThinkAfricaPress, 14 January 2013
With over-consumption of alcohol on the rise, governments are struggling to find suitable legislation amidst profit-hungry global corporations and illegally-produced liquor. Multinational beverage companies have been raking in the profits off the back of what has been dubbed a public health disaster. The increase in the market for branded alcohol in Africa has been attributed to various demographic shifts, including the growth of the middle-class and an increase in self-dependent women. More basic legislation and education is needed across the continent to avert the risks of disease, injury and death. But the real headache is the simultaneous popularity of illegally produced local liquor and the big brands of the beverage giants. And while executives such as Diageo’s President for Africa, Nick Blazquez, pledge to support African governments in “developing the right sort of policy”, some drinks companies’ unethical conduct has met with heavy criticism, with stakeholders calling on big-business tactics for alcohol advertising across Africa to be altered. Among their major concerns was the impact of prolific advertising campaigns on Africa’s youth, particularly in new markets where attitudes to alcohol had not yet fully developed. Unethical advertising is also a major concern, with companies suggesting alcohol consumption is a timeless part of African culture, or could lead to a better life and even sporting achievements.
INCLUSION OF VULNERABLE GROUPS IN HEALTH POLICIES: REGIONAL POLICIES ON HEALTH PRIORITIES IN AFRICA
Schneider M, Eide AH, Amin M, MacLachlan M And Mannan H: African Journal Of Disability 2(1), 22 January 2013
Delivering health services to vulnerable populations is a significant challenge in many countries. Groups vulnerable to social, economic, and environmental challenges may not be considered or may be impacted adversely by the health policies that guide such services. In this study, the authors report on the application of EquiFrame, a novel policy analysis framework, to ten Namibian health policies, representing the top ten health conditions in Namibia identified by the World Health Organisation. Health policies were assessed with respect to their commitment to 21 Core Concepts of human rights and their inclusion of 12 Vulnerable Groups. Substantial variation was identified in the extent to which Core Concepts of human rights and Vulnerable Groups are explicitly mentioned and addressed in these health policies. Four health policies received an Overall Summary Ranking of High quality; three policies were scored as having Moderate quality; while three were assessed to be of Low quality. Health service provision that is equitable, universal, and accessible is instigated by policy content of the same. EquiFrame may provide a novel and valuable tool for health policy appraisal, revision, and development.
EQUITY AND CORE CONCEPTS OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN NAMIBIAN HEALTH POLICIES
Amadhila E, Van Roy G, McVeigh J, Mannan H, MacLachlan M And Amin M: Africa Policy Journal, 28 February 2013
This paper reports on an analysis of 11 African Union (AU) policy documents to ascertain the frequency and the extent of mention of 13 core concepts in relation to 12 vulnerable groups, with a specific focus on people with disabilities. The researchers applied the EquiFrame analytical framework to the 11 AU policy documents. The 11 documents were analysed in terms of how many times a core concept was mentioned and the extent of information on how the core concept should be addressed at the implementation level. The analysis of regional AU policies highlighted the broad nature of the reference made to vulnerable groups, with a lack of detailed specifications of different needs of different groups. This is confirmed in the highest vulnerable group mention being for ‘universal’. The reading of the documents suggests that vulnerable groups are homogeneous in their needs, which is not the case. There is a lack of recognition of different needs of different vulnerable groups in accessing health care. The authors conclude that the need for more information and knowledge on the needs of all vulnerable groups is evident. The current lack of mention and of any detail on how to address needs of vulnerable groups will significantly impair the access to equitable health care for all.
FIFTY YEARS OF ORGANISATION OF AFRICAN UNITY /AFRICAN UNION POLICY-MAKING: OPPORTUNITIES TO IMPROVE WOMEN’S AND CHILDREN’S HEALTH
Africa Coalition On Maternity, Newborn And Child Health: 2013
Attention to women’s and children’s health is increasing in AU policy making, according to this report. While the AU has successfully provided a platform for leaders to debate the issues of women’s and children’s health and commit to their improvement, research demonstrate that more advocacy efforts are needed. In an environment where different priorities compete for funding, the value of Women’s and Children’s health policies could be demonstrated by using more economic argumentation and evidence of their contribution to overall development. Progress on health outcomes depends on gender equality and status of women, education, access to clean water, sanitation, nutrition, capacity for production and distribution of essential health commodities etc. Improving the health of women and children will also require a cross sectoral approach and evidence on collective impact should be strengthened. The report argues that the AU and related bodies such as the Pan African Parliament are key fora for advocacy in favour of Women’s and Children’s Health.
PREVALENCE AND CORRELATES OF BEING BULLIED AMONG IN-SCHOOL ADOLESCENTS IN MALAWI: RESULTS FROM THE 2009 GLOBAL SCHOOL-BASED HEALTH SURVEY
Kubwalo HW, Muula AS, Siziya S, Pasupulati S And Rudatsikira E: Malawi Medical Journal 25(1): 12-14, 2013
This study was conducted to estimate the prevalence of self-reported bullying and its personal and social correlates through a secondary analysis of the 2009 Malawi School-Based Student Health Survey. A total of 2,264 in-school adolescents participated. Just under half (44.5%) reported having been bullied in the previous month to the survey (44.1% among boys versus 44.9% among girls). Compared to adolescents of age 16 years or older, those who were 12 years old or younger and those who were 14 years of age were more likely to be bullied. The other risk factors that were identified in the analysis were loneliness and being worried. Adolescents who had no close friends were 14% more likely to be reporting bullied compared to adolescents who reported having close friends. Adolescents who smoked cigarettes were more than three times more likely to reporting be bullied compared to non-smokers, while those who drank alcohol were more than twice as likely to be bullied as adolescents who did not take alcohol. Health workers caring for adolescents should be sensitised to the frequent occurrence of bullying and to its correlates and consequences.
ENSURING ACCESS TO ESSENTIAL MEDICINES THROUGH THE INCLUSION OF THE RIGHT TO HEALTH IN THE MAURITIAN CONSTITUTION
Budoo A: AfricLaw, 5 March 2013
Mauritius is signatory to the 2001 Doha Declaration, which ensures that government can access generic medicines for use in the public sector and without the patent holder’s approval and is an important tool to ensure universal access to medicines. Although the state has been compliant with the Doha Declaration, the Constitution of Mauritius has no provisions for the protection of the right to health. Furthermore, the National Human Rights Commission has no specific mandate to deal with economic, social and cultural rights and there is no National Medicines Policy document. The author calls on government to give effect to the recommendation of the CESCR and bring about a constitutional amendment that will include economic, social and cultural rights in the Constitution thus making the right to health justiciable. After including the right to health in the Constitution, the government should adopt a new legislation to protect the right to health of all the citizens and enshrine access to medicines as a component of the right to health. To avoid any foreseeable problem, the use of generic medicines should be included in the act and there should be a clear demarcation between generic drugs and counterfeiting so that it does not limit the access to medicines of Mauritians.
TURNING DREAD INTO CAPITAL: SOUTH AFRICA'S AIDS DIPLOMACY
Fourie P: Globalization And Health 9(8), 5 March 2013
In this article, the author reflects on the emergence and contemporary practice of health diplomacy, exploring in particular the potential of niche areas within health diplomacy to become constructive focal points of emerging middle powers’ foreign policies. Middle powers like South Africa often apply niche diplomacy to maximise their foreign policy impact, particularly by pursuing a multilateral agenda. The literature on middle powers indicates that such foreign policy ambitions and concomitant diplomacy mostly act to affirm the global status quo. Instead, the author argues here that there may well be niches within health diplomacy in particular that can be used to actually challenge the existing global order. Emerging middle powers in particular can use niche areas within health diplomacy in a critical theoretical manner, so that foreign policy and diplomacy become a project of emancipation and transformation, rather than an affirmation of the world as it is. The author reviews South African foreign policy and diplomacy, before situating these policies within the context of emerging mechanisms of South-South multilateralism. He advocates for a South African AIDS diplomacy, emphasising its potential to galvanise a global project of emancipation.