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There is no mention of sexual and reproductive health rights in the first UN political declaration on universal health coverage, something activists say is the handiwork of the Trump administration.

Any mention of it disappeared from earlier versions of the document. 

It’s one of a host of disappointments in the “uninspiring” declaration, including lax wording on the health services that should be provided to migrants and refugees.

Big business also gets off scot-free. 

But does a document signed in New York really matter for universal health coverage in South Africa? 

Activists here say yes.

Mainly because some of the main fights playing out on the global stage are also mirrored here at home as the country moves towards rolling out the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme. 

From fights about the definition of universal health coverage to concerns that the South African government might be putting industry needs ahead of patients, catch all the drama here

Happy reading, 

What do you think? Let me know on twitter @vandykjoan or email  

PS If you're feeling left out of the NHI debate, let us know what you think. Find out more here. 

Help us keep quality health journalism and social justice reporting free. Click here.

The Lean Healthcare Summit will inspire the healthcare community to advance lean thinking and practice in their facilities to improve efficacy, free resources, reduce waiting times, impact staff morale, delight patients and save lives. During the Summit you will hear case studies and talks from Lean CEOs and leading international Lean practitioners on meeting the challenges in raising performance in healthcare and related organisations. There will be a particular focus on the African context.

We are proud to host three public sector hospital CEOs as speakers, including Grey Dube of Leratong Hospital, Gladys Bogoshi representing Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital and Groote Schuur Hospital CEO Bhavna Patel. Sharon Vasuthevan, Executive at Life Healthcare, one of South Africa’s top private hospital groups, will also be speaking.

All these leaders have embraced Lean and enjoy the benefit that it has brought to their healthcare facilities. John Toussaint, the keynote speaker, is the founder and Chairman of Catalysis, USA. He is a world-renowned healthcare improvement leader working across the globe, including South Africa. Don’t miss out on hearing more from these local and international healthcare Lean leaders. Contact Mia Faull for more information.
From New York to Pretoria: Who gets a seat at the table to decide what universal health coverage actually looks like remains hotly contested. As of Tuesday, not a single community or patient representative was slated to speak at Monday's presentation of the UN high-level declaration on universal healthcare at its General Assembly. 
On Monday, the world's leaders will sign onto the United Nations first-ever high-level declaration on universal health coverage at the body's General Assembly. 

The ink will long have dried on the document before leaders take to the podium amid a balmy New York summer's day. And like most UN documents, the juicy fights will have already passed. 

But there's more between the lines and unsaid when it comes to this latest declaration.

Find out what you need to know with our Joan van Dyk and what it means for the National Health Insurance in our latest instalment of "Compass: Charting a course to the NHI".

Get the whole story
What to expect from the first UN high-level #UNHLM meeting on #UHC and what it means for South Africa’s #NHI. @Bhekisisa_MG reports.  What to expect from the first UN high-level #UNHLM meeting on #UHC and what it means for South Africa’s #NHI. @Bhekisisa_MG reports.
This week, we helped public health experts to develop their social media skills at #Phasa2019, the Public Health Association of South Africa's annual conference in Athlone, Cape Town.  

Our workshop activated experts' Twitter fingers and this is how it went:

In case you missed it, Mia Malan wrote about why public health experts can't afford to not use social media.

Are those public health experts who attended our workshop tweeting now? Oh, they haven't stopped ever since. They tweet with hashtags, copy people in and make react to other tweeps'  tweets. We are so proud of these clever folks! 
We've had some new subscribers so let's give a warm welcome to:

Ashley Lime of the British Broadcasting Corporation
Mariska Spoormaker from Eastern Cape
Lauren Wildon from Western Cape
Jeanette August of the Cambridge University Hospital
Makgatole Mampane of Mampane Street Clinic
Maretha Bester from the United Kingdom
Hettie Kruger of Baroque Medical

Like our newsletter? Forward it to your family, friends or colleagues so they can sign up themselves.

Opportunities from around the web:

Call for nominations, Aspen New Voices fellowship

Nominations are now open for the Aspen Institute's New Voices 2020 fellowship. The opportunity offers development experts from across Africa, Asia, and Latin America a year-long programme of media support, advocacy training research and writing coaching.

The institute seeks leaders from countries that are underrepresented in global development conversations. Successful candidates will live and work in the communities they service and advocate for changes they want to see at home. Twenty-five fellows will be selected for the 2020 class of which 15 will be experts in fields such as infectious and non-infectious diseases, food security, mental health, development economics, health and human rights as well as climate change.

The remaining 10 will be experts working on the frontlines of sexual and reproductive health rights.

Deadline: 15 October
Find out more

Call for public comment, National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill 

The Portfolio Committee on Health invites stakeholders and interested parties to submit written submissions on the NHI Bill. The objective of the Bill is to achieve universal access to quality health care services in South Africa as per Section 27 of the Constitution. 

As part of this, the Bill sets up the creation of an NHI Fund and outlines its powers, functions and governance structures. The Fund will be used to strategically purchase healthcare services on behalf of citizens and certain categories of foreign nationals to ensure the equitable, effective and efficient utilisation of its resources.

Deadline: 11 October
Click here to submit your comment
For any inquiries email Vuyokazi Majalamba or call her on 021 403 3770 or 083 709 8522

PS Planning on making a submission and want your views heard? Help us broaden the public debate on the National Health Insurance. Add your submission to our public repository.

Public lecture: Harnessing the Immune Response — To measles elimination and beyond, National Institute for Communicable Diseases — Johannesburg

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases will be hosting Melinda Suchard on 4 November at 5.30 pm as part of the Poliomyelitis Research Foundation's 14th James HS Gear Memorial Lecture. 

The talk will take place in the James Gear Auditorium.

RSVP by emailing Irma Latsky or contact them on 011 555 0395

Call for proposals, African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ARNTD): African Researchers' Small Grants Program

The ARNTD with support from the United States Agency for International Development and the United Kingdom (UK) aid from the UK government through the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases is seeking grant proposals.

Proposals will be for both operational and social science research on emerging challenges facing NTD programme implementation in Africa. 

Researchers — especially junior researchers and academics based in research institutions or universities in Africa may apply.

The small grants targeted at junior and senior researchers at the masters or PhD level will provide grants ranging from USD$5 000 to $25 000. 

Applications are accepted in both English and French.

Deadline: 30 September
Find out more

Call for papers, BioMed Central (BMC)

Submissions are now open to contribute manuscripts to the following journals: BMC Public Health; Environmental Health; Environmental Sciences Europe; Globalization and HealthMicrobiome and One Health Outlook.

The theme across all journals is environmental justice. Papers should shed light on the contribution evidence-based research can give to develop better practices and policies towards stronger environmental justice.

Submissions can include but are not limited to research on air pollution, sewage management, water systems management, drinking water quality and pesticides.

Deadline: 1 November
Find out more

Call for abstracts, Health Systems Trust

Abstract submissions are now open for the 2020 edition of the South African Health Review (SAHR). The coming edition's theme is equitable healthcare for people with disabilities in South Africa.

The Health Systems Trust is seeking abstracts providing fresh insights into health systems strengthening efforts for equitable healthcare for persons with disabilities. Preference will be given to manuscripts that take into account the complexities and opportunities for developing and sustaining inclusive health systems, especially in the context of universal health coverage.

The review will represent an evidence base which can be used to strengthen health systems and services to inform future policy development in South Africa.

Deadline: 31 October
Find out more

Call for applications, Rise Up: Gender Equity Initiative (GEI)

Rise Up, a leader in the global movement for gender equity launched the GEI in partnership with Cummins Inc. in order to advance education, opportunity, social justice and gender equity in South Africa.

The organisation will select 20 civil society and non-profit leaders from Gauteng and Durban to participate in a week-long advocacy and leadership accelerator workshop in February 2020. The purpose of the workshop is to build their advocacy capacity, strengthen leadership skills and develop a holistic understanding of the issues affecting women and girls in their communities.

Leaders will then have the opportunity to apply for competitive seed funding to launch their strategies to advance gender equity and justice across the country.

Deadline: 28 October
Find out more

Partnership opportunity, Rise Against Hunger: 2020 Nourishing Lives

The international hunger relief organisation Rise Against Hunger seeks to partner with organisations around the world to provide food and other life-changing assistance to the world's most vulnerable. The organisation provides fortified rice-soy meals.

Rise Against Hunger has opened applications for the provision of food assistance for meal, nutrition and medical programmes under its "Nourishing Lives" programme.

The organisation will evaluate partnership applications by the level of need within the community, the sustainability of the organisation's programme, its ability to import and manage in-country distribution as well as its ability to conduct monitoring and evaluation.

Deadline: 30 September
Find out more

Call for applications: Advocacy fellows, AVAC

AVAC’s Advocacy Fellows Programme launched in 2009 to expand the capacity of advocates and organisations to accelerate, shape and monitor biomedical HIV prevention research and implementation worldwide.

Seventy Fellows have moved through the programme in its first 10 years, many of whom have gone on to become leaders in the HIV movement in their communities, countries and globally.

The programme is aimed at emerging or mid-career community leaders in low and middle-income countries where biomedical HIV prevention or cure research is ongoing or planned. 

Deadline: 20 September
Click here to register
Click here to download the application materials

Regional stakeholder engagement advisor, AVAC — New York

The advocacy organisation, AVAC, seeks to employ a regional stakeholder engagement advisor. 

The advisor will provide technical, content-focused support to the organisation's research engagement activities, with a focus on activities in East and Southern Africa.

The successful candidate will have a passion for and experience in HIV prevention research advocacy. The candidate will also have a bachelors degree in a relevant field or a master's degree and/or experience in public or global health, development or other relevant fields.

Find out more

Call for female experts in any field, Quote This Woman+ — Various locations

Quote This Woman+ is a project of the non-profit Media Monitoring Africa to establish an online database of women and non-binary experts to improve gender representation in sourcing among the media. During the election season alone, Quote This Woman+ fielded more than 500 calls from journalists wanting to increase the voices of women in the media.

Keen to be quoted? Submit your details to

Deadline: N/A
Find out more

Have something to say or an opportunity to share? Let us know. Email tip-offs, comments or story and opinion suggestions to 

Follow us on TwitterFacebook or Instagram for daily updates.
The Bhekisisa Team
Copyright © 2019 Bhekisisa Development Media NPC. All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism, Metal Box
25 Owl Street, 4th Floor, Braamfontein Werf, 2092, Johannesburg, South Africa

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