The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA)
The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) is a Pan-African membership research organisation established in 1973 with the broad goal of promoting the work of African and Diaspora social scientists. The intersecting fields of governance and healthcare have for years been at the core of the work of CODESRIA with multiple research networks focusing on various aspects of these themes resulting in a series of cutting edge publications on these issues. The council has since 1992 also had an annual Democratic Governance Institute, which has over the years, focused on a wide range of themes. Similarly, it has had an Institute on Health, Politics and Society that broached many important themes including private healthcare systems, the global pharmaceutical industry, HIV/AIDS and the governance of African health systems.
CODESRIA is hosting an International Conference on Public Health Governance in Africa from 19-20 November 2015 in Windhoek, Namibia.
The ongoing Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the Mano River Basin of West Africa has surpassed preceding outbreaks in rates of infection, numbers of casualties and in the geographical spread of the disease. Its centrering on three countries, which suffered greatly from the recent wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia has significantly set back post-conflict reconstruction processes that were underway in these countries. Importantly, while the disease has caused significant casualties, its impact on health systems, educational and security systems and economies, to name a few, may even be more damaging.
Unsurprisingly, the outbreak has brought to the fore many themes that often rise to the surface in debates on public health in Africa. Many of these issues, which had come up at the height of the HIV/AIDS pandemic are being reharshed with new undertones and inflections. They include questions of global inequalities and their impact on public health in developing countries, the challenges of public healthcare provision and problems of social welfare and social security systems in developing countries and the intricacies of intra and inter-state relations in the face of healthcare challenges. Salutory efforts have been made by social scientists to encourage an approach to dealing with EVD that goes beyond a purely medical approach to raise questions of culture, economics and politics. These have led to interesting questions about the impact of histories of governmentality on epidemic control, the economics and politics of care and the social meanings of ill-health and wellness among others.
Through its conference on the theme ‘Public health governance in Africa’ CODESRIA wishes to seize on opportunities for debate presented by the ongoing EVD epidemic to rekindle wider conversations about public health governance in Africa. While acknowledging the biological dimension of diseases and the systems that are (supposed to be) put in place to deal with them at a societal level, this conference will deliberately seek to insert conversations about these in broader discussions concerning economics, politics, culture and spirituality.