THE Southern African Development Community (Sadc) says investing in social and human capital development is critical towards achieving grand objectives under the regional integration and economic development drive.
At the heart of Pillar III on Social and Human Capital Development in the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030 is a crucial component of industrialisation and regional integration.
This pillar ensures that socio-economic development is achieved in a human-centred, inclusive, and sustainable manner. Specifically, RISDP 2020–2030 seeks to develop modern and well-resourced health systems that are accessible and responsive in addressing the burden of disease and emergencies.
“This will see a scaling-up of efforts to fight HIV/AIDS and communicable diseases, as well as investments to address all forms of malnutrition,” said Sadc in a latest update.
With a special focus on women, youth, and children, the bloc says Pillar III of the RISDP 2020-2030 accords attention to enhancing opportunities for all citizens to enjoy socio-economic well-being in a context of improved food and nutrition security.
“Pillar III aims to strengthen and harmonise regional health systems for the provision of standardised and accessible health services to all citizens and addressing threats caused by health pandemics,” it said.
“This will result in improved, accessible, and responsive regional health systems.”
Sadc is already implementing regional initiatives on the elimination of malaria and control of tuberculosis, and other programmes on non-communicable diseases.
The regional bloc is also strengthening health systems with a focus on improving access to health service delivery, and is establishing regional programmes that enhance harmonisation and coordination of public health matters to improve service delivery in member States.
According to the update, Sadc is also enhancing investment in nutrition to address all forms of malnutrition through developing regional minimum standards for food fortification to address all forms of malnutrition.
“Nutrition interventions, including micronutrient supplementation and dietary diversity, targeting vulnerable women of reproductive age, young children, adolescents, and the population at large, are being implemented,” it said.
“To improve the living standards for Sadc citizens, the region is also implementing poverty reduction strategies, and developing a resource plan and sustainability strategy for the Regional Poverty Observatory Steering Committee.”
Increasing access to quality and relevant education and skills development, including in science and technology, for citizens through enhanced equitable access to quality and relevant education are also key priority areas.
Under this objective, the bloc has said key interventions include promoting universal access to education for sustainable development, taking into account aspects of gender equality, human rights, and global citizenship, and enhancing the implementation of the Sadc Qualifications Framework.
“Efforts are underway to enhance skills development for regional industrialisation. A multi-sectoral skills development framework to support industrialisation, including through enhanced technical and vocational education and training, as well as apprenticeship and internship programmes, involving the private sector, is being developed,” it said.
“Sadc citizens’ digital skills are being developed to empower them to benefit from the changing nature of work and the rise of the digital economy, leveraging on infrastructure development.
The region is also promoting the acquisition of skills, competences, and qualifications, ensuring that education and training systems are responsive to labour market needs and the evolution of work.
Sadc has expressed commitment towards increasing job creation with decent work opportunities for full and productive employment in the entire region.
“This is being done through promoting and implementing holistic decent work agenda, prioritising job creation and access to productive employment opportunities for young people,” it said.
The Social and Human Capital Development Pillar in RISDP 2020-2030, thus, seeks to build on the successes recorded under the previous RISDP, which include the mainstreaming of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis into key sectors in Sadc.
Already, member States have reached the 90-90-90 UNAIDS targets, while others are on the trajectory to achieve these important milestones, said the bloc. It noted that new HIV infections have declined by 37 percent, while AIDS-related deaths have been halved in the region.
Sadc is part of the Global Prevention Coalition to ensure that the region continues to intensify the fight against malaria, and harmonised minimum standards for the prevention, treatment and management of the disease have been developed to promote health through support for the control of communicable diseases, preparedness, surveillance and responses during emergencies.
Already, eight member States, namely Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, are pushing towards malaria elimination by 2030.
“These countries have formed a partnership called “Elimination 8” to collaborate across borders,” said the bloc.
On women empowerment and gender mainstreaming, it said a number of policies were developed and/or mainstreamed for women empowerment, including, a Sadc Framework for achieving gender parity in political and decision-making positions.
“The Social and Human Capital Development Pillar of RISDP 2020-2030 is, therefore, a crucial component of industrialisation and regional integration as it seeks to create an enabling environment by fostering the link between economic growth and human wellbeing, through holistic interventions that leave no one behind, and end poverty,” said Sadc.