Human rights and social determinants of health are the subjects of two reports released by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf).
The first report stems from the 7th Annual Young Scientists’ Conference held in October 2016 where human rights in general, and the rights of scientists in particular, were addressed by some 80 young and early career researchers.
The conference was hosted by ASSAf, the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS), Gender in Science, Innovation, Technology and Engineering (GenderInSITE), and the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World South Africa National Chapter (OWSD-SANC).
Human rights are fundamental rights of all human beings regardless of nationality, sex, race, religion, language or any other status. In South Africa, the Bill of Rights forms the cornerstone of democracy. The Bill of Rights enshrines the rights of all people in South Africa and affirms the democratic values and principles of human dignity, equality and freedom. In order to achieve these values in South Africa and in the African continent in general, citizens have to promote and respect the culture of human rights. In addition, they should promote the protection, development and attainment of human rights.
Despite growing recognition of the social and economic benefits that improvements towards equality in areas such as health, education, and workplace opportunities hold for the country and the region, the removal of inequalities has not kept pace. Significant gaps between men’s and women’s opportunities still exist and pose a severe impediment to economic and social transformation.
The ASSAf report articulates the written, oral and poster presentations at the conference which revolved around four sub-themes, namely Human Rights in Africa: Context and Universality, Social and Scientific Dimensions of Human Sexual Diversity, Redress of Colonial Heritage in Promoting Human Rights in Africa, and the Relationship between Science and Human Rights in Africa.
The second ASSAf report focuses on social determinants of health (SDH) and is the proceedings of a workshop that deliberated on various policy engagements on SDH in Africa and interrogated shortfalls thereof.
The South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS) in collaboration with ASSAf, the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) and the Uganda National Academy of Sciences (UNAS) hosted the workshop in November last year. This workshop considered various policy engagements on SDH in Africa and interrogated shortfalls thereof.
SDH are defined as the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. These forces and systems include economic policies and systems; development agendas; social norms and policies; and political systems.