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CSIR International Convention Centre, Meiring Naude Road, Brummeria, Pretoria, South Africa, 0001
12:30 – 14:00 Arrival, registration and networking finger lunch
14:00 – 16:00 Presentation of draft texts
Prof. David Budtz Pedersen (DK), Professor of Science Communication; Director of the Humanomics Research Centre, Aalborg University, Copenhagen and Founding Member, Cape Town Declaration on Science for Social Justice.
16:00 – 16:15 Coffee break
16:15 – 17:30 Finalisation of texts
Aidan Gilligan (IRL), CEO, SciCom – Making Sense of Science; Initiator and Organiser, Cape Town Declaration on Science for Social Justice 2012 – 2022.
17:30 – 18:30 Informal Networking Welcome Reception
18:30 – 20:30 Science Diplomacy in Action Dinner
Standing Up for Science
Keynote address by Prof. Salim Abdool Karim (SA), B.Ch.B, Dip.Data (Computer Science), M.S., M.Med, F.F.P.H.M., Ph.D., D.Sc.(hc), FRS]
Salim S. Abdool Karim is a South African clinical infectious diseases epidemiologist who is widely recognised for his research contributions in HIV prevention and treatment. He is Director of the Centre for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and CAPRISA Professor of Global Health at Columbia University. He is also Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Cornell University, New York. He is also an Associate Member of The Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University. Prof Karim’s recently published book, Standing up for Science, is an ode to the value of science and its power to help us tackle some of the world’s biggest problems.
08:30 – 09:00 Arrival and welcome coffee
The World Science Forum Declaration 2022 calls for:
“… renewed support for the social sciences and humanities, as these disciplines play a vital role in understanding societal challenges, including the role of harm reduction science , which informs greater empathy for people with addictions, helping us to shape a more equal and inclusive world.”
The primary focus of this first WSF legacy event is on scientific advice and research for social justice and five overriding principles inform the programme:
09:00 – 09:30 World Science Forum Declaration 2022
09:30 – 10:00 Cape Town Declaration on Science for Social Justice 2012 – 2022
Aidan Gilligan is Founder and CEO of the SciCom Network
“The Cape Town Declaration is on social justice, not on drugs. The issue of harm reduction and drug policies is an example we took from 2012 – 2022 as the most pertinent case-study of an area where evidence-based policies are critically missing. Reducing harm, including harm from policies, is to be seen in a broader social and political perspective. Sound governance should be science-based and aimed at reducing political, economic and other inequities and harms. That is the common purpose bringing us all together in Pretoria as we do the right thing in fighting for human dignity”.
The first two of our four panels unite leading medical, policy and civil society experts to examine the late Kofi Annan’s statement that “drugs have harmed many people, but bad government policies have harmed many more”.
Our focus on 18th July is to weigh-up the strengths and weaknesses of our collective health care systems alongside the ethics of intervening in the lives of addicted and non-addicted users of licit and illicit drugs, brought sharply into focus during COVID-19.
For example, out of the 49 Sub-Sahara African countries, only 16 have data on injecting drug use. The most recent estimates show that there are over 52 million cannabis, 6 million amphetamine-type stimulant (ATS), 3 million cocaine, 2 million opioid and 1.5 million ecstasy (MDMA) users in Africa today. Yet, strict drug laws have escalated public health crises including HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis epidemics, while contributing to the drug-related deaths of 585,000 worldwide. For example, among the 2.3 million People Who Inject Drugs identified in Sub-Saharan Africa, 564,000 are living with HIV.
While illicit drugs grab the headlines, not all drugs are treated equally. Legal drugs such as tobacco kills at least half of its users, potentially 1 billion people alive today. How many of these lives vaping may or may not save we do not yet know. Alcohol is predicted to kill half a billion people alive today, yet despite intense lobbying against, the Republic of Ireland will become only the first country in the world from 2026 to introduce compulsory health warnings on alcohol products. Policies on advertising, taxation, jobs, sectoral interests, culture and civil liberties all come into play and will be discussed.
Of note is that our panels have each been asked to examine if the views of African scientists are taken seriously by policymakers inside Africa, let alone in most places of the world.
An important part of the discussion will be weighing-up how lawmakers must navigate between the rights and responsibilities of individuals to look after themselves and the rights and responsibilities of States to look after their citizens, provide security and a milieu in which to live a satisfying life.
A key assessment will be to evaluate if robust ethical advice is being adequately considered to counter-balance public health imperatives. Have fundamental principles of autonomy, human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity been forced to give way? Further issues to be debated include concepts of democracy and the rule of law, the influence of religion and the urgent need for harm reduction science to be universally applied.
10:00 – 11:15
11:15 – 11:30 Coffee break
Harm reduction sciences refer to the policies, programmes and practices that aim to minimise the negative health, social and legal impacts associated with drug use, drug policies and drug laws. Moving from drug prohibition to legal regulation, we aim to explore tales of resilience, while identifying the best practices in science that can move us from punitive policies to effective solutions.
11:30 – 12:45
12:45 – 13:30 Lunch and group photo
The last two of our four panels spotlights the critical and life-saving role science has to play in underpinning social justice and more effective and humane policies.
With a particular focus on the latest brain and addictions research worldwide, we examine why, notwithstanding often clear evidence, science is not being systematically considered in highly politicised drugs policy discussions and decision-making processes.
In terms of breaking brain science, we get an inside view of bench work taking place at, and global partnerships been driven by, Johns Hopkins University, organiser of panel 3. Similarly, we delve into the exciting work and collaborations being undertaken by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
The positive focus in panel 4 will be on presenting existing and emerging pan-African developments from the work of the African Union Development Agency to Future Africa and the African Global Health initiative, amongst others. A major breaking news component will be on the aims and concrete actions of the ever-expanding Science Diplomacy Capital for Africa (SDCfA) platform, as it spreads its interests from beyond Pretoria to all four corners of the world.
For example, how the just-launched organiser of panel 4, the Eastern and Southern African Commission on Drugs (ESACD), is actively building expert groups to provide often novel data, papers and recommendations, plus insights into the latest reports, will be spotlighted.
A major theme will be recognising and supporting the ever-increasing domino effect whereby countries are taking the lead in national or local reforms to chip away at the rigidity of the international drug control framework. By holding up a mirror to their own public health and criminal justice systems, they are successfully championing an open, evidence-based dialogue that prioritises a public health and human rights-based approach, essentially helping communities achieve social justice for themselves.
Speakers will provide insights into how they are actively engaging national, regional and international parties including the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Their follow-up advocacy campaigns with governments, regional and international bodies, civil society and the media, will be detailed.
Of particular significance is how numerous distinguished Africans from the worlds of politics, civil society, health, security and the judiciary are leading policy reform across the continent.
13:30 – 14:45
14:45 – 16:00
16:00 – 16:30
16:30 – 18:00
Science for Social Justice Pledges hosted by the Science Diplomacy Capital for Africa (SDCfA) on the occasion of the Platform’s 1st Anniversary. Facilitator: Prof. Ndumiso Cingo, SDCfA working group.
The outcomes of this consultation event will form the basis of a follow-up panel to be held at the Science Forum South Africa from 6 – 8 December 2023.
June 2017 – First African Science, Society and Policy Indaba
Roseanne Diab: Event Co-Chair; Executive Officer of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf); Emeritus Professor in the School of Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal; & African Union High-Level African Panel on Emerging Technologies (APET).
“The significance of this high-level event bringing together diverse top-down and bottom-up experts from across Africa and beyond cannot be over-emphasised. Science-based issues are becoming more important to the conduct of foreign policy. Countries large and small, developed and developing, are expressing greater interest in implementing science diplomacy through politics for the purpose of representation, cooperation, resolving disputes, improving systems and securing the right to science for citizens and our most vulnerable populations. The same holds true for global companies and institutions operating in an ever-more complex matrix of technical and relational challenges. Our common purpose is to kick-start a five-year consultative process. This is being organised by Africans so as to respond to specific African strengths, traditions and needs. Our minds are already excited by, and focused on, the tidal-wave potential of the Cape Town 2022 Declaration as a principled blueprint for our Continent and its relations with the wider-world.”
Professor Julian Kinderlerer: Event Co-Chair & Member, European Group on Ethics & Science in New Technologies (EGE) reporting to EC President Juncker.
“There has seldom been a time when advice from scientists to policy makers is so sorely needed. Evidence based science is being ignored by those responsible for policy We need to ensure that data is collected and interpreted ethically and that policy is determined with that information on the table. Knowledge is the property of all of us, and must be shared openly with all who might be affected by its use.”
Max Bergman: Chair of Social Research and Methodology, University of Basel & Extraordinary Professor, University of Western Cape & Free State University.
“The biggest public health challenge in Africa today is competing policy environments that cannot deal with sustainability in health care, not only of infectious diseases but, increasingly, of chronic diseases. A more systemic, community-based, education-oriented, context-sensitive, culture-relevant, and long-term policy approach must integrate policies on poverty and economic development, agriculture and nutrition, and water and sanitation. While this seems hugely ambitious, the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its UN Sustainability Goals may be an excellent vehicle to advance a more sustainable public health agenda in Africa.”
Seema Kumar: Vice President of Innovation, Global Health and Policy Communication at Johnson & Johnson (J&J).
“Africa is rising, coming of age, and ready to show the world a new face–not of poverty, disillusion, and famine–but of self-sufficiency, hope, and sustainability. This new face of Africa will be built by a next generation of motivated youth who are engaged, inspired, and interested in leveraging science and technology to solve human health and other societal challenges. Now more than ever there is enormous opportunity advance African public health and economic development by working together more effectively across sectors, including public, private, NGOs and civil society, to unleash the full intellectual and human potential of the continent through empowerment, education, and public engagement in health and science policy.”
Hossam Badrawi: M.D, MP, & Chairman of the Nile Badrawi Foundation for Education & Development & Ex-Head of the Parliamentary Scientific Committee
“Africa’s public health challenge is to extend primary care services backed up with greater quality assurance and a tighter referral system to secondary and tertiary services. We need to also look at boosting environmental health while better maximising the benefits of technological advances in healthcare, also in terms of greater networking and communications.”
Oyewale Tomori: Professor of Virology, Educational Administrator & former Vice Chancellor of Redeemer’s University.
“Our greatest risk in Africa is in not including the public more in public health discussions. If we see health as only a revenue-generating industry and rush headlong for profits while forgetting the potential for awful repercussions in terms of social wellbeing and the destruction of years of economic growth and prosperity through better health, then all of Africa will suffer.”
Shakira Choonara: Regional Advocacy Officer, South African Aids Trust.
“Policies across Africa tend to follow populist rhetoric and political interests instead of truly effecting change and being implementable. For example, in South Africa National Health Insurance, while valuable and progressive, fails to consider support-side functions such as financial management or procurement which require urgent strengthening. Secondly, policies are all-too-often developed within specific ministries such as health or education instead of across ministries. This silo effect leads to unnecessary fragmentation and a lack of coordinated response.”
Miyoko O. Wantanabe: Deputy Executive Director, Japanese Science & Technology Agency.
“In order to broaden ‘universal health coverage (UHC)’ it is imperative that all stakeholders must be allowed to put their research and their social science knowledge forward. Clubs, bans, traditions, closed networks etc. simply do not deliver. What the Brussels Declaration has shown over the past five years is that the world must embrace the co-production of policy with and for society and not only top-down solutions that rarely work in practice. To achieve this, our scientists need greater ‘social literacy’ in terms of understanding how the public might view or react to policy proposals, while our citizens need to embrace ‘scientific literacy’ as a public necessity, while retaining their right to scrutinise science from a position of evidence-based understanding.”
Mammo Muchie: Research Chair in Innovation Studies at the Institute of Economics Research on Innovation (IERI), at Tshwane University of Technology.
“We urgently need a critical, theoretically-based reading of innovation systems in a manner that connects it to developmental questions for all of Africa. Education and health innovation is timely as education and health are, above all else, more life-saviours than just a means to train and keep people to lead life! Furthermore, they can be organised to create inventors and skilled entrepreneurs promoting the structural transformation and sustainable development Africa needs.”
Nelson Torto: Botswana Institute of Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI).
“Given that we only know public health as we observe and experience it, greater dialogue through a proof of evidence concept could provide the greatest public health policy-making opportunity. This gathering is an important first step on the road to greater openness and inclusivity. It is only by learning from each other and calling for greater scrutiny of the evidence can true dialogue impacting better policy choices be achieved.”
Kurt Moore: CEO, South African Liqor Brand Owners Association (SALBA).
“The alcoholic beverage industry is strategically and relationally well placed, and that we have sufficient understanding of our industry, its strengths and its ills, to make a meaningful contribution to policies that seek to reduce the harms associated with alcohol abuse in today’s Africa. We need greater appreciation for science and research above conjecture to make informed policy-decisions. That is why industry, civil society and government must work closer together.”
Thomas Hartung: Professor & Chair of Evidence-Based Toxicology; Director, Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Dept. of Environmental Health Sciences.
“Scientist must leave their ivory tower to impact on society, but to do so credibly, advice must be based on sound, ethical and humane science. They owe the society that finances them the best advice possible and must be open for communication and criticism. My greatest fear is that we are teaching ‘developing’ countries 20th century science, while we ‘developed’ countries are embarking on 21st century approaches. They should be part of the change!”
Henry Roman: Director, Department of Science and Technology, South Africa and Co-chair of World Association of Young Scientists (WAYS).
“The greatest opportunity for me in the public health space is in improving sanitation. Good sanitation and sanitary practice in communities is a no-brainer that will improve general health. But we must act together across Africa to share technologies and best practices. Water-borne diseases remain a preventable killer indiscriminate of age, gender or country.”
Michael Kahn: Independent Policy Adviser and Extraordinary Professor at Stellenbosch University and the University of the Western Cape.
“Opportunities and challenges facing public health in Africa are largely in the realm of health security that is driven by the impacts of climate change, weak governance, emerging zoonotic and other diseases, and threats of bioterrorism. These are especially acute in fragile or failed states. More prosperous communities also face the risks of lifestyle disease.”
Glaudina Loots: Director of Health, Department of Science & Innovation (DSIT).
“One of the main challenges within health research and innovation is the potential and tendency of scientists to over-promise on the nature and impact of their discoveries, creating expectations that cannot be delivered on. Another challenge is how to harness the potential of precision and genomic medicine for application within public health delivery, taking it beyond access to only a few people.”