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Sport for Development and Global Public Health Issues: A Case Study of National Sports Associations

University of Edinburgh, Moray House School of Education, Institute of Sport, PE and Health Science, St Leonard’s Place, Edinburgh, EH8 8AQ, United Kingdom

Special Issues: Sports-Based Health Interventions

Sport is widely recognised for the contribution it can make to international development goals. More specifically, the value of sport as a tool for development gained its impetus through the HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa. The institutionalized relationship between sport and development has mainly focussed on sport-for-development (SfD) non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This study proposed to examine the response of National Sports Associations (NSAs) towards the multisectoral approach for HIV/AIDS prevention in Zambia. The study draws on lessons learnt from how NSAs within a resource-scarce or low-income country responded to a health pandemic. While public health was previously a state and health sector preserve, the impact of HIV/AIDS pandemic influenced not only the way that a pandemic is managed but also other public health issues. A case study approach was adopted comprising of three National Sports Associations (NSAs) as units of analysis. The study utilised semi-structured interviews, documentary analysis and field observations to gain perspectives on how each NSA mainstreamed and implemented work-based health programmes. Using governance and policy network theories, the paper discusses each NSAs’ role in the governance and implementation of a multisectoral approach to a health pandemic. The findings identified lack of engagement of sports agencies at strategic decision-making level, marginalisation of sport by other sectors, and variations in implementation patterns among sports agencies. Further findings indicate that lack of resources among government sport agencies or departments limited their involvement with other state or non-state actors in strategic level meetings or health policy networks. Resource-scarce conditions placed limitations on the political steer of state actors while non-state actors with foreign resources attracted collaboration from other public health policy networks.
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