• Mayor finish building the Nogqala bridge in Ngcobo
    We have been promised the bridge for the past 20 years, but not having the bridge is affecting us as residents, children are unable to get to school when it rains they are forced to only return to school in May after the rainy season, which impacts their schooling. High school learners are even forced to rent places closer to the school just so they are able to attend classes [2] We can’t go to the clinic to get treatment, we can't go to town. It's worse when someone passes on, we are forced to carry the coffin for a very long distance because we can't cross that river it's too dangerous. The river has claimed many lives and the delays by the municipality continue to threaten us as the community of Noqgala [3], if you add your name to this petition you can help us get the municipality to hear our cries we are tired of being ignored, 20 years is a long time and we need clear plans and a timeline of when will the bridge be completed. References [1] https://groundup.org.za/article/r97-million-spent-and-three-years-later-still-no-bridge/ [2] https://www.dispatchlive.co.za/news/2023-06-19-r10m-and-two-years-but-villagers-still-without-bridge/#google_vignette [3] https://youtu.be/XoMGTfRhokU
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  • Help increase child support grant by raising the Health Promotion Levy
    We have the power to protect children from hunger if we come together and demand the Minister of Finance to take action. Not only would increasing the Health Promotion Levy raise funds that could help fight child hunger, but it would also help reduce the consumption of sugary drinks, which contribute to Non-Communicable Diseases, which are a major health crisis. We’re not the only ones calling on Treasury to act, over 35 top experts on obesity, diet-related diseases and public health from some of the world’s leading universities have written to Treasury officials to support increasing the current HPL to 20%. They are also very impressed with the results of evaluations done on the current HPL.
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  • Say no to beer sales in food shops!
    South Africa rates 5th in the world in the amount of alcohol consumption among drinkers [1]. In addition, alcohol use plays a role in about half of all non-natural deaths [2]. Despite this, the alcohol industry continues to be bold and aggressive in its quest to increase the availability of alcoholic products and make more profits. The Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) in October started calling for beer to be sold at food shops [3]. This is in direct contravention of the National Liquor Act (2003), which prohibits the sale of alcohol other than natural wine at grocery stores and supermarkets. The association must be swiftly stopped in its tracks to protect South Africans from more alcohol harm. According to global trends, the government is supposed to be decreasing access to alcohol by limiting availability in the interest of public health. South Africa already has a disproportionate number of outlets for the population. Those who are supporting the move to allow beers into our food shops are supporting increased harm. If beer is made available in food shops, it will increase easy access and potentially come with discounts and special offers. Some will argue that individuals have the right to choose and take responsibility for their own health, but we know it is not that simple. Individual choice is influenced by the environment in which consumers find themselves. Beers on the shelves of our food shops will increase availability and send a message that beer is just another normal product, like milk, bread, and chocolates. But alcohol is not an ordinary commodity. Currently, South Africans who drink have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Statistics show that about one-third of people in South Africa aged 15 and above drink [4]. However, of those who drink, two-thirds drink to the point of intoxication (i.e., binge drinking), causing harm to themselves and others. This practice also diverts government resources away from development priorities like managing alcohol-related harm through policing, trauma admissions, social and disability grants and more. Our Health Minister has already issued a public plea for South Africans to reduce their ‘drinking sprees’ because of the excessive burden alcohol-related cases place on the healthcare system [5]. Already, the Health Ministry will have less budget available to it from next year because of budget cuts – it cannot afford to waste even more of its limited budget on a further increase in alcohol harm-related cases. COVID showed us that less alcohol availability means less trauma and fewer hospital admissions. It means a safer society for our people. This call by the liquor industry is irresponsible, showing a disregard for the health and welfare of the public and for the government purse. We call on everyone in Mzansi to support our call for #NoBeersInSAFoodshops. By signing this petition, you are joining us in saying we do not need beer in our food shops, there are enough places to buy beer. #NoBeerSalesInSAFoodshops #HandsOffLiquorAct #AlcoholSaferSA References: [1] https://www.who.int/publications-detail-redirect/9789241565639 [2] Parry South Africa: alcohol today. Addiction. 2005;100(4):426–9. [3] https://www.iol.co.za/weekend-argus/news/beer-association-wants-beer-to-be-sold-in-supermarkets-347d921a-068b-4697-85b8-00b521a3b1fc#:~:text=Cape%20Town%20%2D%20With%20more%20than,at%20grocery%20stores%20and%20supermarkets. [4] https://substanceabusepolicy.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13011-018-0182-1 [5] https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/news/drinking-sprees-bird-flu-and-cost-cutting-health-minister-joe-phaahla-worried-over-public-healthcare-20231012.
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  • Demand warning labels on all unhealthy food
    Many of us don't realise that some food products we buy threaten our health [1]. Big food businesses have used adverts and health claims to influence what we eat for years. Massive profits have been made selling us products high in sugar, salt, fat and added sweetener. We are seeing more and more people in our communities suffering from diseases like type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure that can lead to stroke or heart disease [2]. Our children are targeted by adverts and marketing strategies that can influence what they eat for years. But we have an opportunity to help change this. The good news is that government is listening to public health experts and considering regulations that would limit advertising and force businesses to put warning labels on their unhealthy products [3] so we know what is in our food. But some big businesses will do anything to protect their profits even if it hurts our health. Cigarette companies tried to stop government warning labels on their products [4], and already some big food businesses have been finding ways to lobby the health department behind closed doors [5]. We only have until the end of the 21st of September 2023 to send in enough public comments to show the health department that we support warning labels on all unhealthy food and regulating advertising aimed at children and misleading health claims. The evidence is on our side [6], so if enough of us come together to send public comments to support stronger regulations with no loopholes, our leaders may have no choice but to listen. [1] https://sajs.co.za/article/view/3761 [2] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(16)30113-9/fulltext [3] https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/gcis_document/202304/48460rg11575gon3337.pd [4] http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/ldc73a99/pdf [5] https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2022-05-30-heres-why-you-should-care-about-the-food-industry-lobbying-the-health-department-behind-closed-doors/ [6] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666322003749 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9388905/ https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0257626
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  • We demand accountability for the systemic failures that led to the Enyobeni tragedy
    To civil society organisations and individuals across the country, The Enyobeni Tavern tragedy doesn’t just affect the families, friends and communities of the 21 young people who died in the early hours of 26 June 2022. It affects all of us because it could have happened anywhere in the country – in alcohol outlets in cities, towns and villages across all provinces, in rich or poor areas, in suburbs, townships or informal settlements. It’s easy to point a finger at the adults responsible for running the tavern. Some people even blame the parents, the children themselves. But where does the real responsibility lie? We elect local, provincial and national governments to serve us, to ensure our health, safety and wellbeing, to protect us from harm. We expect government to put in place laws that set guidelines for what can and can’t be done and to ensure that those laws are enforced. We expect government to identify challenges in society and to address them. We expect government to be responsive, to listen to us, the people who voted them into service. Please sign this petition and share it with others. We need to speak with a loud voice to call on the President to ensure there is a proper inquiry into the Enyobeni Tavern tragedy and that effective steps are taken to make sure it never happens again. The lives of the Enyobeni 21 can never be brought back, but we can make sure that their deaths are not in vain, that they can lead to the creation of an alcohol-safer South Africa going forward. Sign the petition now and share with everyone you know! Issued by the Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance in SA (SAAPA SA), supported by the Scenery Park 21 Families Support Organisation and the South African Council of Churches (SACC), Eastern Cape
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  • Demand better mental health services for our children
    Children in South Africa face extraordinarily high levels of adversity that increase their risk of developing mental health problems: - Two-thirds of children (63%) live below the upper-bound poverty line. - Nearly one in two children (42%) have experienced violence, including physical violence (35%) and sexual abuse (35%). In some communities such as Soweto, 99% of children have either witnessed or experienced violence in their homes, schools and/or communities. It's therefore not surprising that more than 1 in 10 children in South Africa have a diagnosable and treatable mental disorder. This includes neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD and autism as well as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, conduct, learning and substance-use disorders. And COVID-19, conflict and climate change are placing increasing pressure on young people's mental health. * WHY SHOULD WE CARE ABOUT CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH? Mental disorders in young people not only cause distress for children and their families. They interfere with children’s ability to function in everyday life. Without adequate support, children may struggle at school with higher rates of absenteeism, grade repetition and dropout, undermining their education and economic prospects. Others may start to self-medicate with substances or resort to self-harm to cope with their symptoms, or they may channel their anger and distress outwards through disruptive, harmful, and, some instances, criminal behaviour. In this way, our failure to support children's mental health ripples out across their lives - and across generations. Fifty per cent of all mental disorders begin before the age of 14 years. So we need to intervene early in childhood and adolescence to break the cycle of violence, poverty and poor mental health. * WHY ARE CHILD AND ADOLESCENT MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES IN CRISIS? There are only 15 child and adolescent psychiatrists working in the public health system. In most communities, mental health services for young people are simply unavailable - leaving 9 in every 10 children with a diagnosable mental disorder unable to access treatment. Few health facilities have dedicated facilities for children and adolescents with acute mental illness. As a result, adolescents are kept in adult wards where they may be exposed to adult psychiatric patients and assessed by staff who lack the appropriate skills and expertise. These problems are rooted in government's failure to allocate adequate resources to mental health services and violate children's rights to mental health care.
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  • Treasury did big sugar businesses influence your decision?
    On the 1st of April, the day the HPL increase was to start, Treasury issued a statement postponing the increase [1]. Treasury did not justify this last-second decision, which has raised concerns about what evidence was used to make this decision. Did Treasury choose to put profits before health by agreeing to the demands of the sugar industry? The sugar industry has a conflict of interest when it comes to the sugary drinks tax. That's why it is important Treasury reassure the public that the sugar industry did not influence their decision. The sugar industry has used its power and resources to attack the sugary drinks tax [2]. HEALA has called on Treasury to provide the research and information that was used to make the decision to delay the HPL increase by a year. HEALA has also called on Treasury to confirm whether they engaged with the sugar industry and its associates. If so, in the interest of transparency, Treasury must share meeting minutes and records of engagements and communication with industry. But Treasury has refused to respond to HEALA. The organisation had to resort to submitting a Public Access to Information Act (PAIA) application, but the deadline to respond has come and gone. But if enough of us come together, we can turn up the public pressure on Treasury to be transparent and accountable when it comes to decision-making processes which greatly impact the health of millions of people in South Africa. [1] Media Statement: Release of Revised Draft Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill. National Treasury. 1 April 2022. [2] Well-conceived sugar tax needs further strengthening to save lives of millions. By Mikateko Mafuyeka and Petronell Kruger for Daily Maverick. 22 September 2022.
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  • Stop closed door meetings between government and big business
    https://youtu.be/nuVHJT_rhgI Imagine your teacher smoking in the classroom. For some of us, this was the reality until new rules were put in place by government in 1993 [6]. But why had government not acted sooner? In their paper published in 2003, Mia Malan and Rosemary Leaver outline the relationship between the biggest tobacco business and government [7] [8]. Government eventually put public health before profits, thanks to the work of health advocates. But big businesses are still using their power to protect their profits at our expense. Researchers have pointed out that big businesses have worked to delay and delegitimize important health policies by using their associations and different strategies [9]. Researchers and civil society groups are not allowed to attend a standing meeting between the National Department of Health and big food businesses [9]. State capture has shown us we have a lot of work to do. But we are making some progress in improving transparency and accountability. Politicians have to declare financial interests [10], and political parties now must disclose who funds them [11]. We need to keep building on this momentum. We can't afford to have a repeat of 2014 where big businesses that make food like polony did not agree with government's proposed hygiene rules and instead wanted to self-regulate [12] [13]. Government should have stood up to those big businesses in 2014 and put the new rules in place anyway. Government has to stand up to big business bullies. Their job is to serve the people, not private interests. References can be found here: https://amandla.mobi/big-business-bullies-references
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  • Minister Motshekga, keep South African schools as alcohol-free zones!!
    This is an issue that affects everyone in our society - learners, educators, school admin staff, and anyone who has, or will have, a child in the school system. There is a saying that 'it takes a village to raise a child'. Well, it takes a caring society to protect its children from exposure to the risk of harm. Alcohol use is already a major problem in our country. Schools in some communities already face the challenge of having large numbers of liquor outlets around them and very close to them. Some already have problems with alcohol being used on their premises. Making it possible for schools to have liquor for the purpose of fund-raising simply increases the risks for all of those at schools - learners, educators, admin staff, and even family members who interact with the school. If schools have a problem raising funds, government and society must work with them to address it in other ways - allowing schools to raise money through liquor is not the answer. We should be better than that as a society, as South Africans. We call on you to join us in urging the government to scrap the sections in the BELA Bill which will allow liquor on school premises and at school events. Support the call for a complete ban on liquor on school premises (except for personal use by staff who live on school property). Demand better funding models for our schools so that all children have access to quality education in a safe and protected environment. Fly a blue ribbon at your school in support of the campaign; wear blue ribbons as a group as you participate in school activities. Write to the Minister at [email protected] to tell her what you think of the alcohol clauses in the BELA Bill. Write to the Portfolio Committee in Parliament by 15 June to register your opposition to the alcohol clauses in the Bill - Mr Llewellyn Brown, the Committee Secretary via email: [email protected] or online at https://forms.gle/MoC6AdbdQyYPk3Y49 or via WhatsApp: +27 60 550 9848. Mr Llewellyn Brown can be reached on 083 709 8450 for enquiries. Download the BELA Bill from https://www.parliament.gov.za/storage/app/media/Bills/2022/B2_2022_Basic_Education_Laws_Amendment_Bill/B2_2022_Basic_Education_Laws_Amendment_Bill.pdf Together we can win this one!
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  • Minister Patel - reject the EU & US ‘bad deal’ - this deal does not save lives!
    After 17.5 months of dragging their feet, negotiations are currently underway to reach a quick ‘deal’ at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on the TRIPS WAIVER proposal - boldly led by South Africa and India since October 2020. MInister Patel is in charge of the negotiations for South Africa. The leaked text of the proposed ‘deal’ shows they are not negotiating a waiver, as originally requested, but rather, conditions and clarifications, which after this much time and deaths, represents a poor compromise. It will be a shame if Minister Patel supports the bad deal contained in the leaked text. He should not. The leaked text represents the interests of the EU and the US and other vested interests. It is a very bad ‘deal’ that does almost nothing to advance the demand for equitable access to vaccines (and other health products) for the majority of the world’s population - and yet the poorest and most marginalised everywhere have suffered the worst effects of the pandemic. The South African Government should REJECT this deal which is related to the ongoing TRIPS Waiver negotiations for fairer access to COVID-19 technologies for everyone, everywhere. We call on organisations and individuals in South Africa to sign onto an ‘Open Letter’ to Minister Patel and the South African Government. You can read and sign the letter here: https://forms.gle/GTT9kmf9nECFfSF86 For more information on the leaked text and reactions to it, please see: https://healthjusticeinitiative.org.za/2022/03/24/trips-waiver-negotiations-leaked-text/
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  • Demand Minister Godongwana increase the Sugary Drinks Tax to 20%
    Greedy companies want to stop the sugary drinks tax to protect their profits. Many of these same companies have a history of dishonesty which it comes to the economic impact of a tax on sugary drinks. The sugar industry has exaggerated their statistics when it comes to the claims they make about the Sugary Drinks Tax causing job losses when research from Trade and Industry Policy Strategies finds otherwise [1]. It’s clear that increasing the Sugary Drinks Tax to 20% could help improve our people's health. We have an opportunity to help achieve this goal. If enough of us come together, we can remind the Minister that he has the public support necessary to increase the Sugary Drinks Tax. [1] SA’s proposed sugar tax: claims about calories & job losses checked: https://africacheck.org/fact-checks/reports/sas-proposed-sugar-tax-claims-about-calories-job-losses-checked
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  • Victory: YOU Magazine must cancel their Nestle event. Put child nutrition first.
    The majority of mothers and guardians in Mzansi are unable to afford nutritious food for their babies and children, let alone put food on the table [1]. On top of this, mothers and guardians are constantly bombarded by marketing by food companies to sell their ultra-processed products which are packed full of sugar. Food companies like Nestle have undermined breastfeeding promotion in the past, so the Department of Health put in place regulations to limit how companies advertise and promote their products. These regulations were put in place to help protect mothers, guardians, babies and children from these companies. But Nestle’s latest marketing campaign violates these regulations meant to safeguard the nutrition and health of Mzansi’s children, at a time when three million children have been affected by hunger in recent months [2]. This is unacceptable. If we are going to start changing this situation, we must challenge companies who put their profits before people's health. [1] Household affordability index, Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group, 28 July 2021 [2] Food crisis: 2.5 million South Africans experience hunger ‘every day’, By Nic Spaull and Mark Tomlinson for Daily Maverick, 26 May 2021
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