C. ASSAf Policymakers' Booklets

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Policymakers' Booklets are summaries of Consensus Study Reports aiming at making scientific information accessible to policymakers and the general public.

Peer-Review Status: Peer-Reviewed

Enquiries: Susan Veldsman

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Now showing 1 - 4 of 4
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    Essential facts about Covid-19: the disease, the responses, and an uncertain future. For South African learners, teachers, and the general public
    (Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2021) Bucher, Martin (ed); Mall, Anwar Suleman (ed); Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    The first cases of a new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) were identified toward the end of 2019 in Wuhan, China. Over the following months, this virus spread to everywhere in the world. By now no country has been spared the devastation from the loss of lives from the disease (Covid-19) and the economic and social impacts of responses to mitigate the impact of the virus. Our lives in South Africa have been turned upside down as we try to make the best of this bad situation. The 2020 school year was disrupted with closure and then reopening in a phased approach, as stipulated by the Department of Education. This booklet is a collective effort by academics who are Members of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and other invited scholars to help you appreciate some of the basic scientific facts that you need to know in order to understand the present crisis and the various options available to respond to it. We emphasise that the threat of infectious diseases is not an entirely new phenomenon that has sprung onto the stage out of nowhere. Infectious diseases and pandemics have been with us for centuries, in fact much longer. Scientists have warned us for years of the need to prepare for the next pandemic. Progress in medicine in the course of the 20th century has been formidable. Childhood mortality has greatly decreased almost everywhere in the world, thanks mainly, but not only, to the many vaccines that have been developed. Effective drugs now exist for many deadly diseases for which there were once no cures. For many of us, this progress has generated a false sense of security. It has caused us to believe that the likes of the 1918 ‘Spanish flu’ pandemic, which caused some 50 million deaths around the world within a span of a few months, could not be repeated in some form in today’s modern world. The Covid-19 pandemic reminds us that as new cures for old diseases are discovered, new diseases come along for which we are unprepared. And every hundred or so years one of these diseases wreaks havoc on the world and interferes severely with our usual ways of going about our lives. Today’s world has become increasingly interconnected and interdependent, through trade, migrations, and rapid air travel. This globalisation makes it easier for epidemics to spread, somewhat offsetting the power of modern medicine. In this booklet we have endeavoured to provide an historical perspective, and to enrich your knowledge with some of the basics of medicine, viruses, and epidemiology. Beyond the immediate Covid-19 crisis, South Africa faces a number of other major health challenges: highly unequal access to quality healthcare, widespread tuberculosis, HIV infection causing AIDS, a high prevalence of mental illness, and a low life expectancy, compared to what is possible with today’s medicine. It is essential that you, as young people, also learn about the nature of these new challenges, so that you may contribute to finding future solutions.
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    Neonicotinoid Insecticides: Use and Effects in African Agriculture - A Review and Recommendations to Policymakers
    (Network of African Science Academies (NASAC), 2019) Network of African Science Academies (NASAC)
    Agriculture is critically important for African societies and economies, but ensuring food security for Africa’s growing population is a major challenge due to climate change, structural changes in land use and management, and intensification of agriculture, including the use of pesticides. A synergistic relationship between agriculture and the beneficial services offered by nature (such as pollination and natural pest control) is a foundation of sustainable agriculture on which future food security depends. Such ‘ecosystem services’ are provided mainly (although not exclusively) by invertebrates, and the rapid decline in biodiversity in general and insects in particular globally has implications for productivity and future food security. Beneficial insects increase agricultural productivity and the quality of crops and are as (if not more) important in the African context than the rest of the world. One factor that has been shown to contribute to loss of ecosystem services in Europe and elsewhere is the increased use of a class of systemic insecticides called neonicotinoids, which act as insect neurotoxins. They are taken up by all parts of the plant, are water soluble and can thus spread in the environment, exposing not only the target pests but also beneficial insects ranging from honey bees and other pollinating insects to natural predators of the targeted pests. As a result, the use of some of these insecticides has been restricted in the European Union (EU) and some other countries. The debate preceding the EU restrictions was informed by a study on the impact of neonicotinoids on agriculture and ecosystem services by the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC). Building on this foundation, the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) and the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC) collaborated in a study to examine the implications of neonicotinoid insecticide use for ecosystem services and sustainable agriculture in Africa. The study was conducted between October 2018 and October 2019 and involved two workshops with scientists from 17 African countries as well as an extensive review of relevant African research. This project has collated an unprecedented amount of information, allowing the current situation relating to neonicotinoids in Africa to be assessed for the first time. The findings have been subjected to peer review and endorsed by NASAC member academies.
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    Science in Action: Saving the Lives of Africa’s Mothers, Newborns, and Children
    (Academy of Science of South Africa, 2009) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    Science in action: Saving the lives of Africa’s mothers, newborns, and children presents an overview of the current status of maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) in sub-Saharan Africa and reports a new analysis of how many lives could be saved if science translated into action through health systems. This publication was prepared for the Fifth Annual Meeting of the African Science Academy Development Initiative (ASADI), hosted by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences on 10-11 November 2009 as part of its 50th anniversary celebration. ASADI is a project funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through the United States National Academies to strengthen African academies of sciences in advising their national governments on matters of science and technology. This report includes data for all of sub-Saharan Africa but focuses specifically on the seven countries participating in ASADI.
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    Social Protection in Africa: Overview for Policymakers
    (Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2016-08) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    What is social protection? - What are cash transfers? - What are social protection floors? - Why is social protection in Africa important? - Socio-economic context - The development of social protection in Africa - Non-contributory social protection programmes in Africa: Overview of programmes - Which types of social protection intervention are most common? - What is the size of cash transfers? - What is the institutional location and who funds social protection programmes? - How much do social protection programmes cost? - Social protection in Africa: Reviewing the evidence - Poverty and inequality reduction - Nutrition and food security - Health - Education - Gender - Productive outcomes - Community empowerment and citizen accountability - Social protection in Africa: Key issues - Rights-based approaches to social protection - Universalism and targeting - Gender - Conditional vs unconditional cash transfers - Cash or food - Institutionalisation - Affordability - Labour market linkages and informal workers - Technology - Informal social protection
©The Author/Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)