The People’s Movement South Africa, Section27 and Treatment Action Campaign, hosted the National Health Assembly, which was attended by 156 delegates from 31 organisations.
The reports and documents of the Assemble are below.
The People’s Health Manifesto
In 2016, the South African Constitution celebrates 20 years since it was signed into law by former President Nelson Mandela on 10 December 1996 in Sharpeville. The Constitution aims to redress the injustices of the past and to create a society founded on equality, human dignity, social justice and fundamental human rights. The Constitution most importantly entrenches the rights of everyone to have access to health care services and to reproductive health care, the right to not be refused emergency medical services and rights to a range of social determinants of health. The vision for our society that is enshrined in our Constitution is clear: it is of a society whose health system is undergirded by equality and human dignity. Despite our massive burden of disease and inequalities in health outcomes, not one of our political parties addressed health adequately in their manifestos during the campaigning for the recent local government election. We therefore, challenge all political parties to adopt the People’s Health Manifesto.
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Themes Identifying The Current Health Crisis
1. Lack of meaningful community participation
Community Participation is fundamental to Primary Health Care and to achieving health for all. But the way community participation is being addressed in South Africa is very problematic. For example, Health Committees, established by the National Health Act, are often given very little powers, are not given support and lack training in skills to provide oversight of the services? How can we improve it so that communities have a real voice? How can we make community participation in health meaningful in South Africa?
2. Human resources for health
Community Health Workers are key members of the broader health teams. But our policies pay lip service to CHWs, many CHWs are employed under very poor working conditions with lack of support. If South Africa is going to achieve universal coverage in health, it needs to take seriously what CHWs can bring. What should their roles and functions be? How can we address the challenges they face? To whom should they be accountable? How should they best be supported in our health system?
3. Leadership and management
We have a lot of managers in our health system but we do not have a strong health system to show for it. How can we ensure that our health facilities are properly managed and our health system shows strong leadership? What can civil society do to build the capacity of our health system to be responsive, equitable and effective through excellent leadership and management? How can communities hold management and government accountable?
4. Challenges facing programmes tackling HIV/AIDS & TB
HIV/AIDS and TB are amongst the biggest challenges facing South Africa. But these programmes are hampered by frequent stock-outs and poor access in many areas. When our health programmes go wrong, the health of all in South Africa suffer. How can we campaign more effectively for universal access? What can civil society do to strengthen how the health system responds to the big disease burdens facing the country?
5. Privatisation and impact on people’s health
The private health care system is based on the business model, where the main objective is to increase profits for shareholders. It is inherently inequitable, and therefore not compatible with the principle of health as a public good and a fundamental human right. Furthermore, it reproduces and reinforces other inequalities in society. Inequality is a major social determinant of health, with harmful impacts on both the rich and the poor. What can we do about changing the inequity that comes from the public-private divide? How can we have a health system that does not allow privatisation to steal from the people’s health? What should civil society be doing to end inequalities between public and private sectors?
6. The causes of the causes of ill-health
The determinants of health are much wider than the health services. They are social, political, economic, environmental and cultural. They need upstream interventions to promote health and prevent disease. Many vested interests will want to continue selling products that are harmful to health, promote practices that maximise their ability to make profits and will seek to influence policies to suit their interests. What should civil society do to tackle the social determinants of health? How can we address upstream intervention and make sure government does not allow vested interests to shape our health?
You may read more documents by clicking below.