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Fair access to vaccines and the impact of the pandemic,...

Covid-19

CIVIL SOCIETY WATCH 1-7 FEB

Fair access to vaccines and the impact of the pandemic, on this week’s Civil Society agenda

More people die each year from cancer than HIV/AIDS, malaria and Tuberculosis (TB) combined – that’s 10 million people a year. (Photo: vecteezy.com/Wikipedia)

The week in civil society: a focus on fraternity, fair access to Covid-19 medicines and the impact of the pandemic on teenagers 

This week, the world will commemorate the first-ever International Day of Human Fraternity. Health comes under the spotlight, with a focus on eradicating cancer as well as female genital mutilation globally by 2030. In Cape Town and Pretoria, health activists deliver demands to embassies on the TRIPS waiver. And health experts discuss the impact of Covid-19 on adolescents.

This week the world will commemorate the International Day of Human Fraternity for the first time. The 4 February occasion will give focus to initiatives to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue to enhance peace and respect, as exemplified by the meeting of Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyib, on 4 February 2019 to sign the document “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together”. This inspired the date. 

This day is especially important given the context of Covid-19, says the United Nations’ Secretary-general António Guterres. He says there is “deep concern” about acts that advocated hatred at a time when the world needs unity, solidarity and cooperation more than ever.

The rest of the week…

In October 2020, South Africa and India proposed a waiver on the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Dozens of other countries from the global south have supported this call to scrap copyright and patents on all Covid-19 technologies in order to give every country a fairer chance of getting the Covid-19 products they need. This call is still in limbo before the World Trade Organisation.

On Tuesday 2 February, health activists in Cape Town and Pretoria will make their way to 15 embassies to deliver a letter demanding that their governments support this waiver request. Each embassy will be visited by at least 10 different groups of activists, all presenting the same letter of demand.

This comes at a critical time – the World Trade Organisation will meet again on Thursday 4 February. 

The call has been supported by over 190 civil society organisations in South Africa and activists in India will do the same this week. If your organisation would like to join, email [email protected] with the name of your organisation by noon on Monday 1 February. 

On Wednesday 3 February, the legalities around trade, patents and vaccine procurement during the pandemic will be unpacked in a webinar hosted by the Mandela Institute. The webinar, titled “Trade, Patent Law and Vaccine Procurement during the Covid-19 pandemic: Issues and Lessons for the Global South”, will feature the following speakers:

  • Zane Dangor, the special adviser to the minister of international relations and cooperation;
  • Fatima Hassan, the founder and head of the Health Justice Initiative; and
  • Prof Franziska Sucker, an associate professor of the school of law at the University of the Witwatersrand.

The webinar runs from 3PM to 5PM. RSVP here.

More people die each year from cancer than HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB combined – that’s 10 million people a year. This could rise to 13 million a year. However, more than one third of cancer cases can be prevented and another third cured if detected early and treated correctly. 

World Cancer Day is on Thursday 4 February. This year’s theme is “I am and I will” – everyone has a role to play in reducing the global impact of cancer. The initiative is led by the Union for International Cancer Control, which has put together an array of toolkits, infographics, factsheets and guides about cancer on its website here. It also has a global map of activities, which can be viewed here.

CANSA has supported this global campaign to put its weight behind the World Cancer Day “21 Days to Impact Challenge”. Sign up for one of the five challenges to received daily prompts to move closer to the “I Am and I Will” commitment. 

At 1PM that same day, health experts will be discussing the impact of Covid-19 on the health of adolescents in a webinar titled: “Making adolescent-inclusion the heart of the Covid-19 response”. They will cover topics ranging from education to loss. Among the speakers are:

  • Prof Salim Abdool Karim, the head of South Africa’s ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19;
  • Dr Priscilla Idele, the deputy director of UNICEF’s Office of Research;
  • Prof Lucie Cluver, an honorary professor in psychiatry and mental health at the University of Cape Town.

Find the programme here and RSVP here.

A week and a half ago, Maverick Citizen editor Mark Heywood spoke to professors Glenda Gray and Shabir Madhi about South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout. A number of significant developments have taken place since. Watch out for another webinar that will be hosted by Heywood on this topic and more at 7PM on Thursday. 

On Saturday 6 February, the world commemorates International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. The day as designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 with the aim of rallying efforts to eliminate this by 2030. In 2021 alone there are 4.16 million girls at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation around the world.  

This year’s theme is “Global High Level Event to Accelerate Investment and Action to End Female Genital Mutilation”. Join UNICEF’s global high-level event to quicken investment and action to end female genital mutilation here at 3PM. 

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]DM/MC.

 

Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]

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"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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