By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawian Nyovani Janet Madise is amongst 15 independent eminent scientists appointed by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres to draft the 2023 Global Sustainable Development Report.
A statement from the UN posted on Monday on sdgs.un.org, says as mandated by Member States, this independent group of scientists and their Report will inform the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals.
“The Report aims to strengthen the science-policy interface and to serve as a strong evidence-based instrument to support policymakers in promoting poverty eradication and sustainable development,” says the statement.
“The next Global Sustainable Development Report will be published in 2023, feeding into the high-level global review of the 2030 Agenda at the United Nations in September of that year.
“Following an extensive consultation process, the UN Secretary-General has appointed a diverse group, representing a wide range of disciplines, expertise and backgrounds.”
There are only three Africans on the list — Madise, Opha Pauline Dube from Botswana and Ibrahima Hathie from Senegal.
The other scientists are from Trinidad and Tobago; Qatar; Russian Federation; Japan; Australia; Philippines; China; Sweden; India; Germany and Canada.
The UN says the first group released its report, entitled ‘The Future is Now: Science for Achieving Sustainable Development’, in September of 2019.
The 2023 Group will be supported by a task team comprised of six UN organizations: the UN Secretariat; the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the United Nations Environment Programme (UNDEP); the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the World Bank.
The UN statement said task team will coordinate inputs from a network of existing networks, representing the United Nations, the private sector, civil society and academia.
“The Report will provide guidance on the state of global sustainable development from a scientific perspective, address new and emerging issues and challenges, and offer recommendations for action by governments and other actors.
“The Report will be available for a wide range of stakeholders, including business, civil society and the general public.”
Information gathered on Wikipedia, Nyovani Madise is currently Director of Research and Development Policy and Head of the Malawi World Health Organization.
She is an advisor to the office of the African Institute for Development Policy and is a former professor of the University of Southampton in Demography.
Nyovani has over 100 peer-reviewed research publications that focus on global health issues to highlight the influence of social and economic factors on health in low-income countries.
She was also a key advisor to Melinda Gates regarding family planning in Africa for both her 2014 TEDx in Berlin and her London Family Planning Summit in 2012.
In 2007, Madise addressed the 40th Session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development in New York, highlighting the importance of understanding and investing in the health and education of Africa’s next generation.
Education and work
Madise was born in Blantyre, Malawi to a father who was an accountant and a mother (Nyokase Madise), who worked in broadcasting.
She attended the University of Malawi completing an undergraduate in Mathematics and Statistics in 1983. She moved to the UK to pursue a MSc and then a PhD in social statistics at University of Southampton.
In 2016, she received an honorary higher doctoral degree (DSc) from the University of Aberdeen in recognition of her contributions to research on healthcare in Africa.
Madise has previously worked as a Lecturer at the University of Malawi and as a Senior Research Scientist at the African Population and Health Research Center in Kenya.
She has held many senior management roles including Associate Dean Research in a large faculty at Southampton; Deputy Head of School and University Lead for Population, Poverty, and Policy at Southampton.
Amongst others, Madise is a member of the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group for Malaria Eradication and sits on the board for the Population Council.
She has also previously served on the Wellcome Trust Public Health and Tropical Medicine Interview Committee, UK Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, and as a member of the Guttmacher Institute Board Scholarship.
Madise co-authored the reasearch ‘Is Poverty a Driver for Risky Sexual Behaviour? Evidence from National Surveys of Adolescents in four African Countries’ (2007) with Eliya Msiyaphazi Zulu and James Ciera.
The research was motivated by two factors — the high prevalence of HIV among young people in Africa and the fact that there did not seem to be an academic consensus on the relationship between poverty and risky sexual behaviour in Africa.
“The results would depend on the type of data collected, the number of participants and what the working definition of sexual intercourse was,” says a report on Wikipedia.
“At the macro level, research has shown that poorer countries suffer more than wealthier ones when there is an HIV epidemic. On a micro level though some of the wealthiest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa such as Botswana and South Africa have the highest rates of HIV in the region.
“This is counterintuitive to data at the Macro level supports the fact that poorer countries will likely have fewer resources to invest in prevention services.
“Finally, on an grass root level, there seems to be a positive relationship between wealth and the prevalence of HIV on the African continent. The spread of HIV in African countries is linked to mobility.
“Wealthier people will travel and expose themselves more to people with HIV thus facilitating the spread.”
To get to the root of this issue Madise, Zulu and Cierra are reported to have set out to address this by collecting data from four different countries Burkina Faso, Malawi, Uganda and Ghana with over 19,500 participants between the ages of 12 and 19.
“These countries were chosen because they would provide different levels and contexts of HIV prevalence. Their results showed that girls who are in the wealthiest quintiles in Malawi, Burkina Faso and Ghana had later sexual debut compared to those who are poor.
“This was not the case for Uganda. Furthermore, wealthy adolescents were more likely to have used condoms in their last sexual act. Finally in Uganda and Ghana wealth status had a positive relationship with the likelihood to have more partners.
“The report that poverty increases the likelihood of poor girls having sex is consistent with research that has shown that this is done in exchange for gifts and money.
“The paper also highlights that adolescents who are in school are more likely to engage in sexual intercourse before those who are not in school.”
In another paper, ‘Protecting female migrants from forced sex and HIV infection” (2017), Madise and Bernard Onyango assessed the issue from a macro-level pointing out the fact that 30% of women globally have been victims of abuse perpetrated by someone that they know.
This abuse has negative emotional, mental and health effects for women. Madise and Onyango cite the paper by Julie Pannetier and colleagues in The Lancet Public Health which shows that some migrants to Europe are infected with HIV when they reach their destination.
In another paper, ‘Is There an Urban Advantage in Child Survival in Sub-Saharan Africa?, which Madise co-authored with Philippe Bocquier and Eliya Msiyaphazi Zulu observes the pattern of higher child mortality of rural-to-urban migrants compared with urban nonmigrants.
Madise, Bocquier, and Zulu compared DHS data from 18 African countries to argue that it is not necessarily the place of residence but access to services, and economic opportunities that matter for child survival.
Other selected works are:
* Monica Akinyi Magadi, Nyovani Janet Madise, Roberto Nascimento Rodrigues, 2000 — ‘Frequency and timing of antenatal care in Kenya: explaining the variations between women of different communities’;
* Priscilla A Akwara, Nyovani Janet Madise, Andrew Hinde, 2003 — ‘Perception of risk of HIV/AIDS and sexual behaviour in Kenya’;
* Rob Stephenson, Angela Baschieri, Steve Clements, Monique Hennink, Nyovani Madise, 2006 — ‘Contextual influences on the use of health facilities for childbirth in Africa’;
* Elizabeth W Kimani-Murage, Nyovani J Madise, Jean-Christophe Fotso, Catherine Kyobutungi, Martin K Mutua, Tabither M Gitau, Nelly Yatich, 2011 — ‘Patterns and determinants of breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices in urban informal settlements, Nairobi Kenya Authors’;
* Ann M Moore, Kofi Awusabo-Asare, Nyovani Madise, Johannes John-Langba, Akwasi Kumi- Kyereme, 2007 — Coerced first sex among adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa: prevalence and context’;
* Guy M Poppy, Sosten Chiotha, Felix Eigenbrod, Celia A Harvey, Miroslav Honzák, Malcolm D Hudson, Andy Jarvis, NJ Madise, Kate Schreckenberg, CM Shackleton, F Villa, Terence P Dawson, 2014 — ‘Food security in a perfect storm: using the ecosystem services framework to increase understanding’.