Civil society watch, 26-30 October

Breaking barriers: Médecins Sans Frontières – Marking a ‘revolution’ in HIV care in SA

By Shani Reddy 26 October 2020

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 02: Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Southern Africa in collaboration with City Health department educate Khayelitsha residents about social distancing and washing hands on April 02, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. South Africa remains in a nationwide lockdown for 21 days in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Gallo Images/Nardus Engelbrecht)

This week sees Doctors Without Borders celebrate 20 years of groundbreaking work on the HIV and TB epidemics in South Africa, while the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation discusses Covid-19 with renowned infectious diseases specialist Dr Anthony Fauci.

This year marks 20 years of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) humanitarian work in South Africa. From starting a small clinic in Khayelitsha in 2000 to piloting a programme to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission, and later becoming the first clinic to prove that treatment for Aids was possible in a public health setting, MSF has contributed to saving millions of lives in South Africa. 

At 11am on Wednesday 28 October, join MSF for an online event beamed to you from Khayelitsha, aimed at exploring lessons from 20 years of pioneering HIV care in South Africa. 

The programme includes a conversation with Dr Hermann Reuter and some of the first Khayelitsha activists to be initiated into anti-retroviral treatment (ARV). That will be followed by a panel discussion with medical experts and activists, including Justice Edwin Cameron, former TAC general secretary Vuyiseka Dubula Majola, Dr Nathan Ford (World Health Organisation) and Dr Sandile Buthelezi (director general of the department of health).

On Monday at 10am, the Right2Know campaign is hosting a webinar titled “No to the GP xenophobic bill”. The event will see speakers Dr Patrick Ayuk (Sam Soya Centre for Democracy and Human Rights), Sharon Ekambaram (Lawyers for Human Rights), and Dr Dale McKinley (Right2Know) discuss the Gauteng Township Economic Development Bill – a law that could restrict businesses of foreign nationals. The event will be streamed live on the campaign’s Facebook page.

At 7pm, the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation and MedicalBrief bring you a conversation between Prof Linda-Gaul Bekker (Desmond Tutu Health Foundation) and American physician and adviser to US president Donald Trump, Dr Anthony Fauci. The webinar, titled “The Pandemic: North, South, and forward” will see Bekker and Fauci discuss the Covid-19 pandemic globally, vaccine development and access, and new treatments. Register here.

On Wednesday 28 October at 1pm the University of the Witwatersrand is hosting its fifth webinar in a series of critical engagements titledPandemic Pangolins: Systems, Science, and Society”. Wits is bringing together experts to debate and evaluate the ever-changing body of knowledge emerging from the pandemic. This week the series probes pandemic innovations, responses and partnerships. Register here.

At 3pm, the South African Food Sovereignty Campaign will launch Series 2 of their agroecology workshops. The four-week free online workshop series will feature practical and theory sessions with permaculturalist John Nzira, covering topics such as land, waste, and waste management, food forests, seed saving and indigenous knowledge.

This week, Nzira will discuss land use and provide a practical session on how to set up a small food forest. Register here.

At 6pm, the South African Boycott Disinvestment Sanctions (BDS) Coalition is hosting a ‘solidarity school’ on “Smashing apartheid? Israel and international law.” Join Prof John Dugard (Universities of Leiden and the Witwatersrand), Zane Dangor (advisor to the minister of international relations and cooperation) and Nada Awad (Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies) as they discuss how Palestine is dealt with in the United Nations system. 

Speakers will look at the role of Special Rapporteurs and international law, how government works within the UN, and how Palestinian civil society uses the UN as a terrain of struggle.

On Thursday, 29 October, join the Wits Southern Centre for Inequality Studies at 4pm for a discussion on “black empowerment, affirmative action and the racist economy”. Prof Ashwini Deshpande (Ashoka University), Prof Darrick Hamilton (Milano School of International Affairs), Hwok-Aun Lee (ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute), and Vuyo Jack (South African National Accreditation System) will discuss the different ways countries such as South Africa, the United States, Malaysia and India have approached the struggle for racial and caste equity and what we can learn from them. Reserve your spot by emailing [email protected]

Parliament is currently considering two important bills: the Municipal Structures Amendment Bill aims at improving municipal governance ahead of the 2021 local government elections. The Municipal Systems Amendment Bill reintroduces rules on the process and criteria for the appointment of senior managers in municipalities, among other things.

In light of this, at 10am on Friday, 30 October, the Hanns Seidel Foundation and the Dullah Omar Institute, together with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), invite you to participate in a joint seminar on “Amending municipal governance laws: new rules, new direction?”

Cllr Nkadimeng (president of SALGA), Faith Muthambi (chairperson of the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs), Prof Jaap de Visser (Dullah Omar Institute), and Dr Louis Scheepers (Knysna municipality) will discuss what changes these laws will bring about and whether they are likely to improve governance in municipalities.

Wrapping up Breast Cancer Awareness month, the Mail & Guardian, together with Global Health Strategies, invite you for a discussion on “breast and cervical cancer: a multi-stakeholder perspective on risks, prevention, screening, and support”

Speakers Dr Jenny Edge (Breast Course for Nurses), Prof Lynette Denny (University of Cape Town), Marcelle Gordon (eNCA anchor) and breast cancer survivor Mawisa Chauste aim to address the pertinent issues of these cancers, clarify any misconceptions or doubts and highlight support and resources that are available. DM/MC

South Africa is full of activists whose voices and campaigns need to be heard, and we want to report on all of them. So, wherever you live, if you have virtual events or meetings which you think other activists ought to know about, write to us at [email protected]

Also, please sign up for our weekly newsletter here.

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