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Building civil society’s voice: monitoring and promoting equitable access to Covid-19 prevention and treatment technologies

  • Amount funded: £28,608
  • Year: 2021
  • Duration: 12 months
  • Locations: South Africa
  • Grant stream: Open grants call

Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) and other essential workers outside the health sector play a crucial role in South Africa’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic but many face challenges accessing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other social protection measures.

Project partners
People's Health Movement South Africa
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How we are helping

This project will contribute to improved access to PPE and Covid-19 vaccines and treatments for CHVs and other essential workers; and engage these essential workers in advocacy processes to shape equitable access to Covid-19 technologies.

About the project

The National Coronavirus Command Council was established to lead South Africa’s plan to contain the spread and impact of Covid-19. Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) continue to play a key role in health service delivery at a community level during the pandemic, reaching out to communities with educational materials on Covid-19 and carrying out screening and contact tracing. 

CHVs are themselves vulnerable to Covid-19 virus infection due to their work, but many continue to face challenges in accessing PPE and other social protection measures. Essential workers outside the health sector, such as teachers, public transport workers, retail workers and farm workers also face similar problems.

This project aims to increase the capacity of CHVs to advocate for equitable access to Covid-19 technologies in South Africa. It also seeks to engage essential workers in policy and advocacy processes that shape equitable access to COVID-19 technologies, including national patent laws reform processes in South Africa.

This will be achieved by:

  • raising public awareness of Covid-19 prevention and technologies, including the role of domestic Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) legislation, patent laws and flexibilities contained in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to promote access to those technologies
  • strengthening the capacity of CHVs to promote and monitor access to Covid-19 technologies
  • raising the awareness of non-health sector essential workers to Covid-19 technologies
  • setting up a publicly available “tracker” to monitor South African government’s participation in global and regional agreements aimed at accelerating equitable access to Covid-19 technologies including from a gender perspective
  • promoting sustained engagement between civil society groups, health activists and government officials on IPR law reform, with a focus on finalising and adopting IPR legislation
Project Partners
People's Health Movement South Africa

People’s Health Movement South Africa (PHM-SA) is a non-profit organisation registered in South Africa in 2009. It is the South African Chapter of the People’s Health Movement (PHM), a global network of grassroots activists, civil society and academics that promote health for all. The organisation convenes the Covid-19 People's Coalition Health Working group, which includes over 20 health organisations in South Africa committed to ensuring that the response to Covid-19 is effective, just and equitable. PHM-SA uses advocacy, education, training, alliance-building and academic research to protect and promote health for all.

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Governance Areas
Influencing public discourse