Communicable Diseases

With a high level of poverty in Southern Africa, communicable diseases are a serious concern for social and human development in the region. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) region accounts for one-third of all people living with HIV and AIDS worldwide; eight SADC Member States are among those countries with the highest rates of tuberculosis; and 75% of the SADC population is at risk of contracting malaria. This trio of diseases is a major threat to sustainable development in the region. As a result, a number of protocols, declarations, plans, and programmes have been developed to combat communicable diseases, led by the Social and Human Development and Special Programmes Directorate:

  • The Declaration on HIV and AIDS
  • The Draft Declaration on Tuberculosis in the Mining Sector
  • SADC HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan
  • SADC Strategic Framework for Control of Tuberculosis in the SADC Region
  • SADC Malaria Strategic Framework
  • SADC Malaria Elimination Framework

Furthermore, regional annual reports on HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria all contribute to systems designed to monitor progress on combating these communicable diseases. Overseeing all of these declarations and strategic frameworks, is the Protocol on Health, established in 1999.

The Protocol

Article 9 of the Protocol on Health addresses communicable disease control, while Articles 10, 11, and 12 specifically concern HIV and AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. The Protocol on Health advocates that Member States harmonise their policies for disease definition, notification, and management. As well, Member States agree to cooperate in establishing reference laboratories and sharing information on diseases and epidemics, insofar as this information contributes to the reduction, elimination, and eradication of communicable diseases.

Current Progress

Progress is currently underway in combating communicable diseases within the region, and that is being facilitated by donor-funded projects that are aimed at strengthening capacity for the development and harmonisation of policies and frameworks in communicable diseases. SADC national strategies have been aligned with agreed targets on a regional, continental, and international basis. As well, the heads of state or government of Member States have endorsed all global and continental initiatives aimed at reducing and eradicating communicable disease.