25 Years of Democracy: Where to next for Public Health in South Africa?

5 September 2019
20:30 SAST | CAT
Moderator: Vanessa Carter
How to participate

Facebook event reminder

Join us for a 60-minute Twitter chat with our panel experts. All stakeholders locally and globally are welcome.
The public transcript will be recorded by Symplur.

T1: What changes would you like to see as South African public health enters the next 25 years?
T2: How do you think technology could advance public health in South Africa?
T3: Besides technology, what do you think could be done to improve our public health system?
T4: How can we achieve implementing changes like technology in public health with limited resources?
CT: (Closing Thoughts): Is there anything you feel is important to add to this conversation?


Start your answers with T1, T2, T3, T4 or CT for transcript purposes.
Answer only after the moderator prompts. Questions will be prompted every 10 minutes, but keep answers coming using the relevant T and number. Both panel experts and public attendees are encouraged to participate.
Use the #PHASA2019 hashtag in all tweets so you are visible to others in the chat.

Because partnerships form an integral part of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals Agenda (SDGs) through Goal 17, this month, hcsmSA will be supporting the Public Health Association of South Africa by using our 60-minute Twitter chat to promote their annual conference which takes place between the 16th – 18th of September 2019 in Cape Town.

For purposes of a recorded transcript we will use their registered hashtag #PHASA2019 instead of #hcsmSA and we invite all healthcare stakeholders including doctors, nurses, civil society, NPO’s, policymakers, payers, patients, medical educators and students, pharma, startups and entrepreneurs, health IT experts, journalists etc. to join in and share their views. The topic of this session will focus on the #PHASA2019 event theme which is “Celebrating 25 years of Democracy.”

Video credit: SABC digital news

Topic Overview
South Africa is hailed as one of the leading economies on the African continent, with one of the most liberal and celebrated constitutions in the world. This year, South Africa celebrates 25 years of democracy after apartheid, a systematic discriminatory form of governance that benefitted white South Africans and subordinated Black South Africans. [1] However, despite our progress, South Africa’s public health system still suffers from gross inequalities.

Increasing evidence from scientists the world over indicates that many health outcomes — everything from life expectancy to infant mortality and obesity — can be linked to the level of economic inequality within a given population. [2]

South Africa’s Constitution has been the supreme law of our democratic nation and entrenches our basic rights; including the right to have access to health care services. Despite the legislative, economic, social and cultural accomplishments since 1994, South Africa is facing a quadruple burden of diseases; increasing corruption; the grossly inequitable distribution of access between public and private health care sectors and that the governance crises in provincial health departments have seriously compromised the right to health care and many South Africans remain desperately deprived.

As South Africa enters the fourth industrial revolution in sectors like education (Industry 4.0 / 4IR) [3], it remains imperative that these disparities in our health systems are also addressed next to policy, infrastructure and funding resources. On the 25th of July 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Presidential Health Compact Document to start this process of health reform as a foundation for implementing the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHI) [4]. Download a copy of the compact document here: Presidential_Health_Compact (002)

In this chat, we invite you to share your views around what you think the next 25 years of public health should become if issues like inequality are addressed, as well as how you think that could be achieved. The session is open to everyone and we will be recording the transcript using the hashtag #PHASA2019 so remember to include it in all your tweets.

Healthcare social media hashtags and global communities related to Health for All:
#HealthforAll #Health4All #UniversalHealthCoverage #UHC #PublicHealth #GlobalHealth


  1. https://mg.co.za/article/2019-05-03-00-25-years-of-democratic-south-africa
  2. https://inequality.org/facts/inequality-and-health/
  3. https://mg.co.za/article/2019-01-18-00-industry-40-is-being-taken-seriously
  4. https://ewn.co.za/2019/07/26/ramaphosa-presidential-health-compact-will-help-implement-nhi

The chat session is open to everyone to participate, however, our panel experts bring a unique set of perspectives relating to the topic

Moeketsi Modisenyane – @moeketsimodise1
Moeketsi is the president of the Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA) as well as Director of International Health and Development at the National Department of Health.

Kelly du Plessis – @RareDiseasesSA
Kelly du Plessis, wife and mother of 2 children (aged 8 and 6) and CEO & Founder of Rare Diseases South Africa, a registered NPO born out of necessity when her oldest child was diagnosed with Pompe disease at 11 months old. Pompe disease is a rare, neuromuscular disorder which is fatal if left untreated. At the time, treatment for this rare condition was not available in South Africa, and so Kelly’s personal journey of patient advocacy started. Having dedicated her life and career to furthering the plight of those impacted by rare diseases in developing countries, Kelly serves on various boards and committees which focus on improving the quality of life for rare patients.

Rene Sparks – @rene_sparks
Rene Sparks is a Clinical Manager at the Networking HIV/AIDS Community of South Africa (NACOSA), a registered nurse and a Masters in Public Health student. She is passionate about making an impact on South African health and civil society and is involved in various public and private health programmes including primary healthcare training, clinical support and community systems strengthening.

Idon-Nkhenso Sibuyi – @IdonNkhenso
Idon-Nkhenso Sibuyi, is a public health practitioner having a special interest in Digital Health. He holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree with a specialisation in Medical Informatics from the University of South Africa and is currently writing for a Doctor of Technology (DTech) degree in Informatics at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. He has ten (10) years of experience in public health including Hospitals, Primary Health Care Facilities, National Department of Health, Non-Governmental Organisations (and related development organisations) such as HISP-SA, HealthEnabled and I-TECH SA. He has interdisciplinary experience and knowledge in the design, development, adoption, implementation and application of ICT-based innovations in healthcare services delivery, management and planning. Apart from his initial work as a clinician, he has worked in various roles in programs such as health standards compliance, health information systems (HIS) strengthening, digital health implementation in maternal, child and women’s health (MCWH) and human resources for health (HRH).

Gertrude Mngola – @GertrudeMngola
Right to Care South Africa

Paul Andile – @PaulAndile2
Andile Paul Sithole is a vibrant and innovative youthful tech-entrepreneur who is a founder of Systems Life Master (Pty) Ltd is an emerging, high-energy, youth-led company that provides TECH-solutions across the private and public healthcare sector. Determined to improve the quality of healthcare received, we address the digitisation of personal identity and verification, to reduce data losses and irregularities, remove access barriers to healthcare and avoid malpractice and loss of lives. Currently, the company is based in Gauteng but operates across South Africa, powered by The Innovation Hub SA.

Lynsey Stewart-Isherwood – @LynseyStewartI1
Lynsey Stewart-Isherwood holds a Master of Science (med) from the University of the Witwatersrand and is a public health specialist with over two decades of experience in TB and HIV research and programme implementation. In the more recent years, Lynsey has been involved in the design and implementation of Digital Health Programs. Lynsey has extensive expertise working at both a strategic level within Ministries of Health in Africa and Indonesia and on the ground at the clinic and laboratory interface level, working in countries including Burundi, DRC, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. She also brings a wide-skill set working with numerous donors, including Bill and Melinda Gates, PEPFAR, USAID, CDC, WHO and other international organisations and academic institutions. From her first-hand experience in the field, Lynsey truly understands the gaps between the clinic and laboratory and is thus passionate about seeking out and implementing innovative and relevant solutions to strengthen these gaps. She has also engaged with private-sector pharmaceutical firms and has experience in proposal and grant development for molecular diagnostic and digital health research. Lynsey joined BroadReach Consulting in August 2019 as a Director Client Engagement. Before then, she was Business Innovation Manager for the iLEAD program, where she was responsible for seeking out, engaging with innovators and project managing technologies that strengthen the laboratory value chain. Lynsey was also a Technical Specialist within the PEPFAR funded EQUIP program, where she co-developed the strategy for scaling up of HIV-viral load testing programs in Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, the DRC, Burundi, and Indonesia. Furthermore, she is the co-inventor for a digital health technology that aims to strengthen pre- and post-analytics for Viral Load Testing & Monitoring. With a background in medical research, she is proficient in data collection and analysis. She is also comfortable in the development of research protocols. In her roles, Lynsey has been a key contact for all stakeholder engagements and is an accomplished speaker and conference presenter hosted at international platforms.

André van Zyl – @DreVanZyl
During the early stages of André’s career and studies in psychology, he started a small business making the internet more accessible to students living around his campus. After his studies in psychology, he moved to Cape Town where he worked in a treatment facility for people who are substance dependent.  He relocated to Pretoria where he worked at a centre providing therapy to children with developmental impairments. Concurrently, he also worked at an eLearning company implementing their solution in schools around South Africa. He became increasingly interested in the use of technology in health promotion and decided to pursue a career in public health. He is currently employed at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University as a research data manager. André focused his undergraduate studies in psychology and sociology at the Nelson Mandela University. He continued to do an honours degree in psychology. He completed his Master’s in Public Health degree at the University of Pretoria in 2016. His research focused on the health education resources available to high school Life Orientation educators in Tshwane. His interest in mental health and technology has been a theme throughout his career and he is hoping to do a PhD on the intersections of these topics. He cares about causes directed at improving maternal and child mental health. Much of André’s focus is on using mHealth solutions to support the implementation of projects relying on community health workers to provide health services. He loves working with open source analytics tools. He believes these tools should be more widely considered in public health activities because they are free, they have very supportive communities, and there is a wealth of high-quality online training resources dedicated to these tools.

Harsha Somaroo@SHA_ZAR
Harsha Somaroo is a Public Health Medicine Specialist, committed to protecting and improving health, healthcare, and health equity. She currently holds a joint appointment post at the Department of Community Health, at the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Public Health, and Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital. Her professional and academic qualifications include a medical degree, a Fellowship in Public Health Medicine, a Masters of Medicine in Public Health Medicine, a Master of Science in Epidemiology, and a Diploma in HIV/AIDS Management. She has been involved with various aspects of clinical care and public health systems’ management and believes that improvements both within and outside the health system are essential to improve the quality of healthcare and health equity. Within the health care sector, she wants to influence changes related to enhancing clinical and corporate governance, and overall health systems strengthening. Outside the health care system, she wants to work to promote actions to address the social determinants of health and to foster heightened social conscientisation among all South Africans.

Dr Ndumiso Tshuma – @ncdphd
Dr Ndumiso Tshuma holds a PhD in Public Health, Master’s of Business Administration, a postgraduate degree in Public Health Nutrition and a BSc in Nutrition. He has over 10 years’ experience in the NGO sector in South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho and Zimbabwe. His areas of interest include mHealth integration in disease prevention and treatment adherence. He has been the principal investigator and co-investigator in studies on mHealth and machine learning in the health space. Ndumiso has also conducted research studies in nutrition, maternal health, HIV and TB, non-communicable diseases, youth and adolescent health. His research output currently stands at more than 50 publications comprising journal articles, abstracts, books and technical reports. He is a Public Health Specialist at The Best Health Solutions. One of Dr Tshuma’s latest articles featured in the Mail and Guardian includes “Robots might soon provide services in clinics” which focuses on the implementation of digital technologies like virtual support groups and artificial intelligence (AI) for HIV / AIDS patients in South Africa.

Dr Thameshree Naidu – @Tham_Naidu
Dr Thameshree Naidu is a Public Health Medicine Specialist who supports teams, organisations and governments in developing resilient health systems. She has developed and led large scale collaborative projects working across diverse role players providing technical support to develop measurable innovative solutions. She currently serves as a country advisor for the Africa Hospital Patient Safety Initiative (AHPSI) that begins to address the WHO third global patient safety challenge, Medication Without Harm in Africa working across South Africa, Ghana and Ethiopia. She obtained a MMed (Public Health) in 2011 from the University of KwaZulu Natal(UKZN) and a Fellowship in Public Health Medicine (FCPHM) from the College of Medicine in South Africa(CMSA). She holds a Diploma in HIV Management (Dip HIV Man) also from the CMSA and Graduated with a MBCHB from the University of Cape Town(UCT) in 1998. Dr Naidu has completed a professional development programme with the Institute of Healthcare Improvement(IHI) and serves as Faculty/Improvement Advisor supporting their work in Africa. Her key public health interests are applying systems and design thinking to solve problems by facilitating the development of bottom-up solutions that produce measurable improvement. She is passionate about exploring practical solutions to the policy practice gap and believes that these solutions lie with the implementers themselves. She is interested in developing methods to evaluate locally developed innovative solutions for scalability and sustainability.


  1. Chats are public. Even if you use a platform like tchat.io, they still show on your timeline. Think before you tweet! Read more about maintaining a good digital footprint here.
  2. Please respect other members of the community and show courtesy at all times.
    Refer to the Twitter Terms and Conditions of use. Disrespectful behaviour can be reported.
  3. Don’t be afraid to lurk, although participation is always encouraged, even if the topic is not within your expertise, your voice matters.
  4. Visit www.symplur.com to check out the analytics and transcript which is open to the public.
  5. If you don’t understand a question from the moderator, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for clarity!
  6. Use this opportunity to network with other stakeholders and follow them on Twitter.
  7. When entering the Twitter chat, first introduce yourself and tell other members what you do so they get to know you.
  8. If you agree with a members perspective in a chat, go ahead and retweet (RT) them to show you support their idea.
  9. The chat runs for 60 minutes, but you can join in at any time.
  10. Start answers with the relevant T’s and number for transcript purposes.
  11. Answer each question after the moderator prompts but keep answers coming even if we move onto the next one. We don’t want to miss out on your views!
  12. Both panel experts and attendees are invited to participate because everyone’s perspective counts.
  13. Use the hashtag (#hcsmSA) in all of your tweets or you won’t be visible in the chat.
  14. More information about how to participate in a Twitter chat can be read here

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