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A new civil society coalition gives communities a commanding platform to improve the health of new-borns, children, adolescents, women and mothers in South Africa

 

On November 16, South Africa’s Minister of Health, Dr Motsoaledi launched the South African CSO Coalition for Newborn, Child, Adolescent, Women’s and Maternal Health Services (SACSoWACH) at the national World Prematurity Day celebrations. 
 
“I welcome the coalition as it has a critical role to play in mobilising communities and supporting our prevention efforts. I invite Dr Motsepe to bring to my attention all gaps and concerns the coalition finds in the governments’ efforts to support women and children’s health.” Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health, South Africa.
 
The Coalition, consisting of eight civil society partners, aims to serve as a powerful voice to advocate for the health of new-born’s, children, adolescents, women and mothers in South Africa by:
  • increasing public and relevant sectoral awareness of the issues;
  • raising the profile of the cause; 
  • influencing change through appropriate policy and legislation; 
  • galvanizing political and social support for these changes; and 
  • holding government, health providers and others to account for the commitments made to women, adolescents and children.
 
Co-founded by Save the Children South Africa, PATH and Health Systems Trust, the coalition comprises other key influential organisations in South Africa, namely, Lovelife, Soul City, UNICEF, The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, Ibis Reproductive Health, Soul City, the Medical Research Council, the Neonatal Nurses Association of South Africa, and the University of Cape Town. Other CSOs have now expressed interest as a result of the increasing profile of the Coalition, so that SACSoWACH will be growing in strength in 2016.
 
With a masters in maternal and child health, the new coalition Patron, Dr Tshepo Motsepe, will be a strong champion and ally for the coalition. A respected advocate for women’s, adolescents’ and children’s issues, the wife of South Africa’s Deputy-President is well-placed to raise and address concerns for this vulnerable population and support the coalitions’ objectives. 
 
“I thought this would be a good way for me to influence and have a voice in promoting prevention. I believe very much in prevention and having a community that is better informed.” Dr Tshepo Motsepe, Coalition Patron
 
All speakers and attendees of the launch, including academics, the department of health, hospital leadership and staff, and local and international civil society unanimously agreed that the coalition will fulfil a much needed role. This role will be to ensure the involvement of the community in advocating for greater access to effective and high quality health service delivery and to provide a sustained focus on the needs of women and girls. 
 
“We need the community to be involved in the response in order for us to reach our targets. The coalition can help in improving the demand side and we look forward to working with them.”  Dr Yogan Pillay, Deputy Director – General: HIV/AIDS, TB and Maternal, Child and Women’s Health, National Department of Health.
 
“We congratulate civil society for this initiative. A coalition of this nature is long overdue and the impetus on the health sector is beneficial. We will work closely with the coalition and listen to them” Kalafong Hospital CEO
 

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