2014 Policy Briefs

Lower HIV prevalence and increased risk behaviours among Gauteng Provincial Government employees

The HSRC conducted a survey of HIV prevalence and HIV risk behaviours among Gauteng Provincial Government employees using a second-generation behavioural surveillance survey methodology. An extensive programme of education and preparation of employees in all departments preceded the survey. Download the policy brief now.

Promoting innovation for inclusive rural transformation in South Africa

This policy brief recommends three immediate policy actions to better understand the dynamics of rural innovation and how effective public support can strengthen innovative learning and capability development: 1) Invest in rural innovations with large and lasting developmental spinoffs for rural communities. 2) Facilitate the construction of resilient and inclusive actor networks to drive catalytic rural innovations. 3) Develop appropriate measurement tools to monitor, assess and enhance the performance of rural innovation systems to assist those involved in rural development and innovation to utilise and support these pathways and value chains. Download the policy brief.

The Karoo fracking scenario: Can development and environmental wellbeing coexist, or must one of them prevail?

South Africa is now exploring the idea of exploiting shale gas in the Karoo. The lack of a clear environmental impact assessment of the effects of fracking prior to the issuing of permits has raised concerns from environmentalists, economists and the public. This brief attempts to examine whether development and environmental health can coexist in the Karoo.

Legalising cannabis for cancer: Benefits of indigenous cannabis therapeutics

The majority of African people use indigenous medicines for various ailments. This includes the use of cannabis to treat cancer. Non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cancer are now on the increase amongst African people. The use of conventional western medicine as a modality of treatment represents an insurmountable financial burden for most African governments, including South Africa.

Nigeria's economic boom: A positive outcome for intra-Africa trade

This brief seeks to reflect on the co-operative and competitive dynamics characterising the bilateral relations between the two countries, and to examine any possible resultant political and economic dividends that may promote the development of both countries and the continent as a whole. It concludes that the economic boom in Nigeria should be viewed within the context of the achievement of NEPAD’s objectives, and goes on to recommend actions for improving bilateral trade between the two countries.

Tobacco control and health

Tobacco is the second leading cause of death and disability in the world after high blood pressure (Global Burden of Disease Study 2012), accounting for 6.3% of the total burden. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in 2012 tobacco killed 6 million people worldwide, of whom 600 000 were nonsmokers killed by inhaling environmental tobacco smoke (WHO 2011). Download the policy brief now.

Safeguarding South Africa's future: The need for integrated prevention programmes in child protection

Growing evidence from different disciplines shows that child abuse and neglect worldwide have immediate and long-term negative outcomes for human development and population health. In South Africa child protection policy is inclusive and provides for promoting the well-being of families with children, especially poor and vulnerable children in need of care and protection. The White Paper for Social Welfare (1997) and chapter 8 of the Children’s Act (No. 38 of 2005 as amended) provide for the implementation and resourcing of primary prevention and early interventions. Download the policy brief now.

Gender inequalities in education in South Africa

The Constitution of South Africa serves as a compass for engendering gender equality in the country. Several policies have been enacted to facilitate gender equality and equity in education. These policies have led to gender parity in enrolment and increased participation of both boys and girls in school. However, while success has been achieved in terms of access, the quality of educational experience for both boys and girls remains extremely poor for most learners (Moletsane et al. 2010).

A regulatory framework for interpreting in healthcare settings: Implications for equitable access to healthcare in Lesotho and the Western Cape, South Africa

Interpreting is an essential support service in multilingual health systems where language diversity dictates a need to facilitate communication between healthcare providers and patients. However, this service is neither institutionalised nor regulated in Lesotho or in South Africa, resulting in haphazard interpreting practices often decided by healthcare providers or by management of a healthcare facility. The result of these practices is an imbalanced system in which some patients access health services in the language they understand best while others do not, and some obtain interpreting services while others do not. This policy brief presents a case for the formulation of policies that regulate interpreting services in healthcare facilities in both countries. Download the policy brief now.

Learnerships and apprenticeships: Key mechanisms for skills development and capability building in South Africa

In post-apartheid South Africa skills development policy, learnerships and apprenticeships are key policy mechanisms intended to enhance employability in an inclusive manner, to equip unemployed young school leavers with skills, and to upgrade the capabilities of those already employed. Learnerships are an integrated programme of theoretical and workplace learning across all skills levels and occupations, while the apprenticeship system is a specific mechanism meant to produce intermediate level artisanal skills. Download the policy brief now.

Linking knowledge producers and marginalised communities

Human Sciences Research Council. Since 1994, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has promoted the role of universities in innovation and competitiveness through a focus on industry interaction. The emphasis is particularly on firms in hightechnology formal sectors, to grow new niche concentrations in biotechnology, nanotechnology or space science, for example. In contrast, higher-education policymakers have tended to promote the role of universities in community engagement, equity and social development. A wide range of projects have long existed in which universities cooperate to promote local development in fields such as water, conservation of indigenous species, and regional development. 

Health needs and HIV risk among southern African women who have sex with women: Further policy options for an overlooked population

This policy brief addresses the health needs and HIV risk among southern African women who have sex with women (WSW),1 and arises out of a research study that reflects insights from qualitative and quantitative data sets (see Matebeni et al. 2013; Sandfort et al. 2013). HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) are relevant issues for all WSW and lesbian and bisexual (LB) persons and therefore require research, programmatic and policy attention. More info at: http://www.hsrc.ac.za/en/research-data/view/6876.

Television advertising to children: Ethical considerations with regard to advertising of unhealthy foods and drinks

This policy brief deals with the issue of television advertising of food products to children in South Africa. During 2012, a study was undertaken by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), the South African Medical Research Council (MRC) and the University of Athabasca in Canada to examine the extent of television advertising of food products to children by the SABC across its four television broadcasting stations. The study evaluated the number and typeof food products advertised in order to determine whether children were being exposed to unhealthy food and beverage advertising.

Social innovation in South Africa's rural municipalities: Policy implications

South Africa’s post-1994 innovation policies and strategies evidently support  the strengthening of policies that yield social outcomes and consider rural development to some extent. However, the policy challenge is how to promote innovations that yield direct positive social outcomes that benefit the poor and marginalised members of society.

Tuberculosis and co-existing common mental and substance-use disorders: A case for including mental healthcare and substance-use prevention as part of the tuberculosis treatment package in high-burden provinces

South Africa has 0.7% of the world’s population and 28% of the world’s population of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and tuberculosis (TB) co-infected individuals. It has been estimated that approximately 60% of people with TB are co-infected with HIV (WHO 2012). Co-infected individuals have almost double the chances of getting multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extreme-drug resistant TB (XDR-TB). These individuals also have a high mortality rate due to co-infection with HIV (Department of Health, RSA 2007).

Evidence for the feasibility, acceptability, accuracy and use of electronic data-collection methods for health in KwaZulu-Natal

Accurate and timely information is essential to the surveillance and delivery of healthcare that meets the needs of a population. Decision-makers need confidence that the data on which they base their fiscal allocations are both accurate and recent. The South African District Health Information System (DHIS) is known to suffer from a number of challenges relating to quality, accuracy and timeliness of the data, which limits their usefulness (Garrib et al. 2008). Double counting, undercounting, outof-date data-collection forms and staff shortages all erode the quality of data collected and, by implication, throw into doubt budget decisions made on the strength of their analysis.