Category: General Interest

Interview: “I Used That Anger to Feed My Activist’s Soul,” Says Former TAC General Secretary

Dr Vuyiseka Dubula-Majola, the former General Secretary of the Treatment Action Campaign, reflects on her journey and new role at the Global Fund. PHOTO: Joyrene Kramer

By Biénne Huisman for Spotlight

Dressed in a dark jacket, rain is pelting Vuyiseka Dubula-Majola’s face as she rushes past bare trees in Geneva, Switzerland. Along with her two children, Dubula-Majola has newly moved into a house in nearby Genthod, from where she commutes to work by train.

In October, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis [TB] and Malaria, appointed Dubula-Majola as head of their community, rights and gender department. The Global Fund has allocated tens of billions of dollars around the world to fight HIV since its inception in 2002.

Five weeks into the job, Dubula-Majola tells Spotlight that a big challenge for her will be to hone a new tool – that of diplomacy.

Laughing, the former General Secretary of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) says that in the past, diplomacy has not been her greatest strength.

“In this new job, I am required to be diplomatic,” she says. “Basically, diplomacy is being nice in the face of atrocities, and I am not that person. So it will be a huge challenge for me, it’s going to take a shift. I will have to keep asking myself, ‘what value I can add in this position?’ While developing new tools and new ways of fighting, without being the noisy person in the room.”

The power of collective action

Known for not mincing her words, the activist-scholar is talking to Spotlight over Zoom while walking to the Global Fund’s offices in central Geneva. She adds: “Activists don’t like bureaucracies by nature, but you have a voice here. You have political currency to shift things. It’s a tough one, but I’m there.”

In a 2014 TedX talk hosted in London, an inflamed Dubula-Majola told the audience that she is angry – angry with her father, angry with her government, angry at everyone. But that she was using her anger to fuel her work.

Vuyiseka Dubula-Majola was recently appointed at head of the Global Fund’s community, rights and gender department. PHOTO: Supplied

While she is in Switzerland, Dubula-Majola’s heart still brims with African proverbs, such as: “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.” She has experienced the power of such collective action first-hand at the TAC, but now she’ll be applying it on a different stage. Indeed, her new job is “to ensure that the Global Fund strongly engages civil society and promotes human rights and gender equality”, with a particular focus on supporting community led organisations.

As a role model for her new diplomatic duties, Dubula-Majola cites American public health official Loyce Pace. “Loyce Pace who runs the health program in the United States government, she is very effective in what she does while hardly saying anything in public. But she is shifting norms – bringing priority to black and poor people. She uses her allies and many other people similar to her to say things louder than she could…I guess this is another step of growth in my activist journey – to still be as effective, as radical, the very same eagerness and passion, but silently.”

‘There was no time to dream’

Dubla-Majola grew up in a village near Dutywa in the Eastern Cape. Aged 22 in Cape Town in 2001, she spiralled with depression after being diagnosed with HIV. But instead of resigning herself to what was then still a death sentence for most people, she joined the TAC – working night shifts at the McDonalds drive-through in Green Point, while by day she joined the fight to bring antiretrovirals and other medicines to South Africa.

“As a 22-year-old, I did not have fun, there was no time to dream,” she recalls. “I was fighting for my life and the lives of others. I never thought I would have children, I never thought I would get married, I never thought I would love again. Because there was also the issue of who infected me, how did this happen? You start resenting relationships.”

At the forefront of social justice activism for most of South Africa’s young democracy – a role model for people living with HIV, and for those fighting inequality – Dubula-Majola lead the TAC from 2007 to 2013, after which she joined Sonke Gender Justice as director of policy and accountability. She holds an MA in HIV/AIDS management from Stellenbosch University; her PhD from the University of KwaZulu-Natal examined “grassroots policy participation after a movement has succeeded to push for policy change,” using MSF’s [Médecins Sans Frontières] pioneering antiretroviral sites in Khayelitsha and Lusikisiki as samples.

‘Build and regain the dignity of poor people’

In 2018, when Stellenbosch University offered her a job as director of its Africa Centre for HIV/AIDS Management, Dubula-Majola was circumspect. Why take up appointment at a white male-dominated institution shackled by slow transformation, in an elitist town? But she took on the challenge to become the transformation she wanted to see.

Dubula-Majola tells Spotlight that while relishing the privilege of academia – a space to reflect – it saw her away from “the heat of the activist fire” for too long. Five years later, a new challenge awaits.

Reflecting on Stellenbosch, she says: “This [job at the Global Fund] is even harder, because it’s not just one country, one university. This is all the continents of the world. All of them facing the same thing, the struggle here is to build and regain the dignity of poor people around the globe.”

Despite her early misgivings about relationships, Dubula-Majola married fellow TAC activist, Mandla Majola. Their children, now aged 10 and 16, are HIV-negative. Presently Majola is helping with their friend Zackie Achmat’s independent campaign for the 2024 general elections, after which he will join his wife in Geneva. The family will unite in Switzerland for Christmas though – “which will be the most miserable and cold Christmas,” says Dubula-Majola, laughing. “It will be our first winter Christmas and our last. As we just arrived a month ago, it doesn’t make sense to travel back to South Africa for the holidays.”

Overall she says she remains hopeful, adding that movements like #MeTo are lessons in global solidarity.

Her thoughts on continuing the fight against HIV: “It is up to HIV positive people, and those who want to remain HIV negative, to steer towards an AIDS-free generation. We must stop complaining, thinking politicians will do everything for us, and do it ourselves.”

Meanwhile, Global Fund representatives have voiced confidence in Dubula-Majola’s ability to lead. Marijke Wijnroks, head of the organisation’s strategic investment and impact division, said in a statement: “Following an extensive search process, I am delighted to say that we found the ideal person for this role. As a person living with HIV, Vuyiseka’s lived experience and leadership style are well aligned to what we need from this critical role.”

Note: Dubula-Majola is a former General Secretary of the TAC. Spotlight is published by SECTION27 and the TAC, but is editorially independent – an independence that the editors guard jealously. Spotlight is a member of the South African Press Council.

Republished from Spotlight under a Creative Commons Licence.

Source: Spotlight

‘National Treasure’ Prof Harry Seftel Passes away at 94

Renowned clinician, researcher and educator Professor Harry Seftel has passed away at the age of 94. For many, he was well-known for his radio appearances concerning health and medicine. Hailed as a “national treasure” by President Cyril Ramaphoa, Prof Seftel contributed greatly to the study of non-communicable diseases in South African populations and was a strident critic of apartheid.

The Wits Faculty of Health Science posted on Twitter/X: “The Faculty mourns the passing of Professor Harry Seftel, distinguished professor of medicine at @WitsUniversity. Renowned for making complex medical issues accessible to all, Prof. Seftel was a passionate advocate for health promotion.”

Born on 28 December 1928, Harold Cecil Seftel became an intern at Baragwanath Hospital in 1953 shortly after receiving his medical degree, and by 1982 was Professor of Medicine and Chief Physician at Hillbrow Hospital.

An outstanding clinician, he contributed greatly to the categorisation of infectious and non-infectious diseases among Black South Africans. He held numerous positions and received an honourary law degree from Wits.

His research interests focussed on diseases with a high prevalence in various South African populations: oral iron overload, cryptogenic cardiomyopathy and arterial hypertension among Black Africans; coronary artery disease and diabetes mellitus among Asians and familial hypercholesterolaemia among Afrikaaners.

He encouraged research at many levels, authoring more than 200 publications in fields ranging from endocrinology to infective diseases. In doing so, he collaborated with many of the finest minds in their fields, locally and internationally.

Not content with confining his teaching to academia, he also educated the general public with presentations in the media, becoming a familiar face over the years. He became known for many catchphrases, with “trust no one, least of all yourself” being one of his most revealing.

Prof Seftel was also friends with Nelson Mandela, having met him at Wits University. While Nelson Mandela was in prison, he heard one of Prof Seftel’s broadcasts and reduced his salt intake to help with the health problems he suffered throughout his incarceration. Not surprisingly, Prof Seftel was a strident critic of apartheid and the gross inequalities it produced.

In his 1973 inaugural lecture at Wits, he said of the distribution of medical service South Africa: “The present situation is deplorable and shameful. The man from Mars who is due here shortly would find it quite incomprehensible. In particular he would find our system of priorities wholly illogical and immoral.”

Embracing the Power of Collective Action on International Volunteer Day 2023

Photo by Zach Vessels on Unsplash

The United Nations International Volunteer Day, celebrated annually on 5 December, is a unique opportunity for volunteers and organisations worldwide to celebrate their contributions, share their values, and promote their work within their communities. The theme for 2023 is: “The Power of Collective Action: If Everyone Did.”

The United Nation’s (UN) fourth State of the World’s Volunteerism Report (SWVR 2022), titled Building Equal and Inclusive Societies, shows that the ways in which volunteers and entities interact, collaborate and partner are vital for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Volunteerism plays a crucial role in promoting a culture of collaborative decision-making and reshaping power dynamics. Volunteers can act as connectors, bridging the gap between different groups and facilitating better understanding and cooperation.

“At Sanofi South Africa, we understand the immense value of collective efforts in building a healthier, more resilient world for patients, communities, partners, and employees,” says Prudence Selani, Head of Corporate Affairs at Sanofi South Africa. “Our dedication to addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges is evident in our comprehensive social impact strategy, which is now an integral part of our business, influencing every level of our organisation.”

Sanofi’s ‘Play to Win’ strategy, intensifies the pharmaceutical company’s focus on improving healthcare access, reducing its environmental footprint, and building an inclusive workplace. This commitment extends to ensuring a sustainable planet for future generations.

The organisation is making a lasting impact through its corporate social responsibility (CSR) legacy project in Mamelodi, in the City of Tshwane, which forms part of Sanofi’s global In and Beyond the Workplace social impact strategy pillar – “to reflect the diversity of its communities, unleash the full potential of its employees, and transform healthcare to be more inclusive and equitable.”

After engagement with numerous organisations, Sanofi partnered with Entokozweni Resource Centre in Mamelodi to make a real difference in people’s lives. The non-profit organisation is dedicated to uplifting the Mamelodi community through a variety of programs and initiatives, focusing on long-term developmental goals and immediate community needs​.

“The launch of our Legacy Project on 15 September 2023, at Entokozweni was a resounding success, drawing extensive support from our staff,” says Selani. “We dedicated the day to connecting with the people of Entokozweni and the broader community, marking the beginning of a long-lasting relationship.”

Support for the community includes:

  • Donating essential items such as mattresses, toiletries, stationery, uniforms, and clothing.
  • Providing 250 Coursera licences to empower Mamelodi’s youth with skills for employment and helping to transform the lives of their families and community.
  • Hosting the Mamelodi Community Health Centre’s (CHC) Purpose Day at Entokozweni, focusing on educating the community about gut health and the importance of hygiene.
  • Converting an illegal dumping site into a vibrant indigenous garden during the Sanofi Legal Ethics & Business Integrity department (LEBI) Giving Week, through collaborating with employees, local communities, and various stakeholders.

“As we celebrate International Volunteer Day, we are reminded of the importance of working together to effect real change,” says Selani. “Volunteerism is one of the most vital delivery mechanisms for social, environmental and economic transformation, ensuring a lasting impact because it can change people’s mindsets, attitudes, and behaviours. The power of collective action is not just a theme for a day but a guiding principle in transforming lives through united efforts.”

Join the UN in recognising volunteers all over the world using the hashtags #IfEveryoneDid and #IVD2023. SanofiVolunteers #InternationalVolunteerDay2023 #CollectiveAction #SocialImpact

International Day of Persons with Disabilities – Inclusivity is Critical to Achieving Health for All

Photo by Elevate on Unsplash

The United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is celebrated annually on 3 December, aiming to promote an understanding of disability issues and to mobilise support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. An estimated 1.3 billion people experience significant disability.1a This represents 16% of the world’s population, or 1 in 6 of us.1a In South Africa, that figure is 15%, or 8,9 million.2a

Persons with disabilities face many health inequities, including stigma, discrimination, poverty, and exclusion from education and employment. They also face barriers in all aspects of the health system, such as negative attitudes and discriminatory practices and lack of information or data collection and analysis on disability.1b+c

“Disability inclusion is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and global health priorities to achieve health for all, as envisioned in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” says Prudence Selani, Head of Corporate Affairs at Sanofi South Africa. On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Sanofi is celebrating its commitment to the 2023 theme, ‘United in Action to Rescue and Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) For, With, and By Persons with Disabilities,’ through several initiatives.

In collaboration with its implementation partners, Sanofi has launched a unique external training programme for persons with disabilities, especially those from disadvantaged communities. This programme is designed to break barriers to education post-matriculation, offering management training and entrepreneurship skills in areas like financial literacy and marketing. This initiative also supports people with post-matric qualifications striving for employment, enhancing their employability and professional growth.

“As part of our commitment to Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE), 10% of learners on our Youth Employment Service “Y.E.S.” programme are persons with disabilities, underlining our commitment to diversity and inclusion,” says Selani.

Sanofi’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is bolstered through Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). The Ability+ ERG promotes a safe environment for employees to declare their disabilities, offering support and resources. Sanofi is also offering employees the chance to enrol in South African Sign Language courses, to transform its workplace into a disability-friendly space.

“Our partnerships with local and global organisations that are focused on disabilities will enable us to conduct workshops with leaders and employees, fostering a culture of understanding and empathy.”

“Sanofi also emphasises employee wellness and mental health, offering extensive support and wellness programmes,” says Selani. “These initiatives underscore our dedication to the well-being of all our employees.”

“As we mark IDPD 2023, Sanofi encourages organisations across all sectors to join us in these efforts. Together, we can make significant strides towards a more inclusive society and achieving the SDGs for, with, and by persons with disabilities,” concludes Selani.

Together, we are making a difference. Join us in our journey towards an inclusive future.


1. World Health Organisation (WHO). Disability. [Mar 2023]. Available from:,diseases%20and%20people%20living%20longer.
2. National Council of and for Person with Disabilities (NCPD). Available from:

Gift of the Givers Gaza Head “Paid the Ultimate Sacrifice”

By Matthew Hirsch for GroundUp

A “gentle and loving” person who “paid the ultimate sacrifice” for making sure those who needed it received aid. This was how Ahmed Abbasi, who headed the Gift of the Givers office in Gaza, was remembered at an interfaith memorial service in St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town, on Sunday evening.

At least 400 people came to pay their respects. Several faith leaders were in attendance as well as government officials, including Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis and former international relations minister Lindiwe Sisulu.

Gift of the Givers’ Western Cape project coordinator Ali Sablay told GroundUp that Abbasi and his brother, Mustafa, were killed by a missile while returning from their morning prayer.

Abbasi leaves behind his wife and three children. They have been relocated to a place of safety.

Sablay said that Abbasi was responsible for setting up a women and children care centre, three desalination plants, supplying medicines to hospitals, and more.

“He was the head of this operation and in the last 40 days of this war, he’s been remarkable in the work he’s been doing in getting aid to those affected. He had the option to relocate but he said he could not leave the people behind. He stayed on with his family. Unfortunately, he paid the ultimate price.”

Sablay said the organisation backed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to refer members of the Israeli government to the International Criminal Court (ICC). “We support the political parties that are asking that the Israeli ambassador be expelled. This is not an act of war, this is an act of genocide,” he said.

Reverend Michael Weeder, dean of the cathedral, led the service. Reverend Allan Boesak gave the sermon.

Megan Choritz read out a letter of condolence on behalf of South African Jews for a Free Palestine. “There has never been a moment of crisis where Gift of the Givers has not stepped up and offered help, solace, dignity and hope to those affected. Please, in this dark moment for you and your organisation, accept our prayers, solidarity and support.”

“We will continue to speak up, continue to disavow any claims that this war is waged in our names, or in the name of Judaism,” she said.

The service was interspersed with hymns, songs and poetry readings. Several faith leaders addressed the congregation.

In a pre-recorded message, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of Gift of the Givers, thanked Father Weeder for organising a memorial service for someone he had never met. “This is not a head of state, a minister, or a person of high rank. He’s just an ordinary Palestinian, but he works for Gift of the Givers and that makes him special, even if I say so myself.”

In an interview with GroundUp last month, Sooliman described Gaza as “the worst situation in the world because there is no exit route”.

“You can’t get out. The area is so small. It’s so easy to bomb it … Nobody can have a safety plan. Where are you going to hide? There’s no such thing as safety in Gaza,” he said.

The New York Times reported last week that over 100 aid workers in Gaza have been killed in the past five weeks.

Republished from GroundUp under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Source: GroundUp

This Doctors’ Day, EthiQal Says “Thank You!”

I hope this newsletter finds you in good health and high spirits. As part of Doctors’ Day on 16 November, my team and I wanted to take a moment to express our deepest gratitude and appreciation for the incredible work you do every day.

On this special occasion, we celebrate you and your fellow doctors for the remarkable impact you make on the lives of those you serve. Your expertise, resilience, and compassionate care contribute to the betterment of our community and the well-being of countless individuals. We recognise the challenges you face, especially in these unprecedented times, and we are inspired by your continued efforts to provide exceptional healthcare.

At EthiQal, we take pride in supporting doctors like you. We are committed to ensuring that you have the comprehensive insurance coverage you need, allowing you to focus on what matters most – your patients.

To mark this occasion, we extend our warmest wishes for a Happy Doctors’ Day! May you find time to reflect on your accomplishments and the positive impact you’ve made on the lives you’ve touched.

As a token of our appreciation, we have created a small thank you video. Please click on the video below – it may be a small gesture, but we hope it brings a smile to your face and serves as a reminder of the impact you make every day.

A ‘Thank You’ Doctors’ Day video from EthiQal

We are also donating, on your behalf, to the Healthcare Workers Care Network (HWCN), a nationwide healthcare worker mental health support network with the slogan ‘Caring for the Carers by Carers’. They do great work supporting doctors, sustained only by financial donations and pro bono work.

Thank you for your tireless dedication, and we look forward to continuing to support you whilst you focus on making our nation healthier.

Wishing you a Happy Doctors’ Day!

Warm Regards

Alex Brownlee

EthiQal CEO

H3D’s Pioneering Research Adds Hope to the Fight against Malaria 

Members of the University of Cape Town’s Holistic Drug Discovery and Development Centre H3D

A formidable disease that has plagued humanity for centuries, malaria has exacted a heavy toll on human lives, disrupting communities and hindering socio-economic progress across some of the most vulnerable regions of the world, particularly the African continent.  

With its stealthy transmission through the bites of infected mosquitoes, malaria has earned the dubious reputation of being one of the deadliest vector-borne diseases on the planet. So much so that the World Health Organization’s World Malaria Report reveals that malaria cases are on the rise, with instances rising from 245 million cases in 2020 to over 247 million a year later1

With an estimated 619,000 people succumbing to the disease in 20211, it remains a defining challenge for global healthcare systems. However, through the unyielding persistence and spirit of medical innovation and scientific ingenuity exemplified by research facilities such as the University of Cape Town’s Holistic Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D), solutions to mitigate the severity of malaria are on the horizon.  

“As the first and only integrated drug discovery platform on the African continent, H3D’s mission is to discover and develop innovative life-saving medicines for diseases that predominantly affect African patients,” explains Bada Pharasi, CEO of the Innovative Pharmaceutical Association of South Africa (IPASA).

H3D’s focus on building Africa-specific models aims to improve treatment outcomes in African patients and to educate and train a critical mass of skilled African-based drug discovery scientists. H3D’s scientific output and research model includes attracting international investment in local innovative pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) across the African continent to address the disproportionately high global disease burden. Importantly, H3D targets critical infectious diseases, including tuberculosis, antibiotic-resistant microbial diseases, and malaria. 

“Given the vulnerability of many of the African populations, the continent accounted for 95% of malaria cases and 96% of malaria deaths in 20211. Accordingly, continued antimalarial drug research and development, such as the studies conducted by H3D, is important to prevent and treat the millions of cases that arise each year, all of which have consequences on both the health and socioeconomic development of the continent,” adds Pharasi.

Since the official launch of H3D’s programs in April 2011, there have been notable advances in innovative drug discovery projects. The centre has demonstrated a strong track record with multiple chemical series discovered and being progressed at H3D in each stage of the drug development pipeline.

A significant achievement reached by H3D was the discovery of the malaria clinical candidate, MMV390048, which reached phase II human trials in African patients. This was the first ever small molecule clinical candidate, for any disease, researched on African soil by an African drug discovery research unit. 

According to Dr Candice Soares de Melo, Chief Investigator at H3D, the centre’s current anti-malarial programmes will focus on the identification of quality leads suitable for optimisation and candidate selection as potential agents for the treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria, ideally with additional activity against liver-stage parasites to offer protection and prevent relapses (in case of malaria caused by the species Plasmodium vivax), as well as blocking the transmission of the disease. 

“A critical component of the research conducted at H3D is to develop medicines that are safe and sufficiently tolerated to be given to the widest range of recipients, including infants and pregnant women,” says Soares de Melo.

Besides the potential benefits of providing a new cure for malaria, H3D serves as a catalyst for training scientists in infectious disease research and influencing the R&D environment in Africa.  As part of its partnership with the South African Medical Research Council, H3D has worked to mentor and develop scientists at other African universities, including those at Historically Disadvantaged Institutions (HDIs) within South Africa. 

Furthermore, apart from strengthening drug discovery innovation at UCT, the centre has also taken a lead role in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in catalysing drug discovery across sub-Saharan Africa, with upwards of 16 university research groups working on malaria and tuberculosis drug discovery. 

“An example of this is the Phase 1 clinical trial for the H3D clinical candidate MMV390048, which was carried out at the UCT Division of Clinical Pharmacology,” adds Soares de Melo. 

Another is the MATRIX independent special project, which has the potential to transform local drug manufacturing across the continent. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the project aims to pilot cost-effective local manufacture of antiretroviral Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients using flow reactor technology.

“Should Africa intend on a path to self-sufficiency, it’s important to drive continued investment in health innovations developed for and by Africa.

“We support the research efforts of H3D, and strongly believe that now is the time to take a deliberate and systematic approach to develop new capabilities, transfer technologies, leverage partnerships and networks, and train scientists, all while delivering on drug discovery projects to help address the continent’s, and the world’s, greatest health challenges,” concludes Pharasi.

For more information, visit or contact Candice Soares de Melo at

Medshield Medical Scheme And Clicks Strengthen Their Partnership to Enhance Access to Quality Care Through Medshield’s Smartcare Benefits

Medshield Medical Scheme, a prominent medical aid scheme, and Clicks, a leading retail pharmacy chain and Designated Service Provider on the Medshield Pharmacy and SmartCare Networks, are pleased to announce the expansion and enhancement of their partnership. This partnership aims to empower members with even greater access to quality care through Medshield’s SmartCare benefit, allowing access to a network of Clicks clinics for professional nurse and nurse-led virtual Family Practitioner (GP) consultations. This further cements their commitment to delivering healthcare excellence through technology.

Expanding the SmartCare Network

Medshield and Clicks have partnered to add 123 Clicks clinics to the existing 255 clinics in the SmartCare Network. This expansion guarantees that Medshield members can conveniently and efficiently access their SmartCare benefits at these selected Clicks clinics.

SmartCare: The Gateway to Modern Healthcare

Medshield’s flagship member benefit, SmartCare, is leading the charge in digital innovation in healthcare. By utilising the power of technology, SmartCare provides access to pharmacy clinics that offer a one-stop-shop for members to access professional nurse consultations, health risk assessments, sick notes, specialist referrals, medication and nurse-led virtual access to Family Practitioners (GP) when required. This benefit is redefining the way healthcare services are accessed and delivered, making it more convenient and efficient for both healthcare providers and members.

Medshield members have access to an unprecedented level of convenience through Clicks clinics, which are powered by the Udok telemedicine solution. These consultations cover prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, focusing on connecting patients, nurses, doctors, and medication for fast and convenient care.

Kevin Aron, Principal Officer at Medshield, explains, “When we introduced SmartCare, we aimed to offer a cutting-edge solution that would add more value for our members. Medshield was the pioneer medical scheme in South Africa to integrate this service as a new benefit for all members, without additional costs.”

The Medshield SmartCare Benefit

SmartCare offers a multitude of benefits to Medshield members, providing them with a holistic approach to healthcare:

  • Enhanced Access to Care: SmartCare provides Medshield members with easy access to quality care led by professional, licensed nurses at pharmacy clinics. The nurse will facilitate a virtual Family Practitioner (GP) consultation depending on the patient’s ailment. Once the patient has been diagnosed and treatment prescribed, the relevant medication is easily obtained from the pharmacy.  
  • Stretch day-to-day medical aid benefits:  Healthcare services offered by SmartCare pharmacy clinics such as Clicks are cost-effective, and enable members to receive quality care and their medication as a complete solution. Utilising the SmartCare benefits allows the member to receive quality care whilst minimising the use of their day-to-day benefit.
  • Improved Health Outcomes: SmartCare services implemented by pharmacy providers allow members to manage and receive preventative care through wellness checks and health risk assessments, providing access to early intervention services and ultimately leading to better health outcomes. 

The Vision of Collaboration

“We are excited to announce our enhanced partnership with Clicks, a valued partner on the Medshield DSP Network. With the addition of 123 Clicks clinics to the SmartCare Network, we are reinforcing our commitment to provide Medshield members with access to high-quality healthcare services,” said Kevin Aron, Principal Officer at Medshield. “SmartCare is revolutionising healthcare delivery, and we are proud to offer this innovative solution to our members.”

The Medshield SmartCare way of adding value:

  • A Medshield member can visit any Clicks clinic on the SmartCare network for primary healthcare needs such as acute conditions, wellness checks, health risk assessments, vaccinations, or chronic medication prescriptions as prescribed by a Family practitioner (GP).
  • A registered nurse performs a thorough medical history and examination of the patient.
  • The nurse can advise the patient on over-the-counter medication available at the pharmacy.
  • A virtual consultation with a family practitioner is requested by the nurse through Clicks clinic’s Udok technology when further treatment is necessary. The doctor then completes the consultation with the assistance of the nurse.
  • The nurse can print the doctor’s written documentation, and the patient can fill their prescription at the pharmacy immediately.

Accessible Medications and Comprehensive Care

In addition to SmartCare consultations, Clicks pharmacies are available on all Medshield plans, making access to prescription medication convenient for members.

Rachel Wrigglesworth, Clicks’ Chief Healthcare Officer stated, “This partnership between Clicks and Medshield focuses on the wellbeing of our customers, which is our top priority. The collaboration has expanded to include Clicks clinics powered by Udok, a solution that offers real-time access to registered family practitioners through our Nurse-led consultations on the SmartCare benefit, funded by Medshield Medical Scheme. As a leader in the healthcare market, this partnership perfectly aligns with our commitment to increasing access to affordable primary healthcare for all South Africans. We are committed to the continued success of this collaboration.”

Embracing the Future of Healthcare

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve in the digital age, SmartCare stands as a shining example of how technology and innovation come together to provide added convenience and efficiency in healthcare. It empowers nurses to provide additional care for Medshield members through accessible technology. Unless it is a trauma situation, members can visit a Clicks clinic on the SmartCare network for acute and chronic conditions. By embracing the future of healthcare through the SmartCare benefit, Medshield members can expect to experience efficient and reliable medical consultations to enhance their wellbeing.

“Medshield is continuing to reinvent healthcare the smart way. The SmartCare benefit offers our members a new level of convenience, connecting members with nurses, doctors and medicine like never before,” concluded Aron.

A Strengthened Partnership

Expanding the Medshield and Clicks partnership demonstrates a solid commitment to providing excellent healthcare services and a shared vision of creating a more accessible and convenient healthcare experience for Medshield members. It is a testament to the excellent collaboration between Medshield and Clicks, ensuring that quality care is always easily accessible.

Trick or Treat? Many People around the World Still Believe Witchcraft Exists

A newly compiled dataset quantitatively captures witchcraft beliefs in countries around the world, enabling investigation of key factors associated with such beliefs. The findings, from Boris Gershman of American University, are published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

Many prior studies conducted around the world have documented people’s beliefs in witchcraft, defined as the idea that certain individuals have supernatural abilities to inflict harm. Understanding people’s witchcraft beliefs can be important for policymaking and other community engagement efforts. However, due to a lack of data, global-scale statistical analyses of witchcraft beliefs have been lacking.

To deepen understanding of witchcraft beliefs, Gershman compiled a new dataset that captures such beliefs among more than 140 000 people from 95 countries and territories. The data come from face-to-face and telephone surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center and professional survey organisations between 2008 and 2017, which included questions about religious beliefs and belief in witchcraft.

According to the dataset, over 40% of survey participants said they believe that “certain people can cast curses or spells that cause bad things to happen to someone.” Witchcraft beliefs appear to exist around the world but vary substantially between countries and within world regions. For instance, 9% of participants in Sweden reported belief in witchcraft, compared to 90% in Tunisia.

Using this dataset, Gershman then conducted an investigation of various individual-level factors associated with witchcraft beliefs. This analysis suggests that, while beliefs cut across socio-demographic groups, people with higher levels of education and economic security are less likely to believe in witchcraft.

Gershman also combined this dataset with other country-level data, finding that witchcraft beliefs differ between countries according to various cultural, institutional, psychological, and socioeconomic factors. For instance, witchcraft beliefs are linked to weak institutions, low levels of social trust, and low innovation, as well as conformist culture and higher levels of in-group bias, ie the tendency for people to favour others who are similar to them.

These findings, as well as future research using the new dataset, could be applied to help optimise policies and development projects by accounting for local witchcraft beliefs.

The author adds: “The study documents that witchcraft beliefs are still widespread around the world. Moreover, their prevalence is systematically related to a number of cultural, institutional, psychological, and socioeconomic characteristics.”

Source: Science Daily

World-renowned Vaccinologist Shabir Madhi Awarded CBE

Professor Shabir Madhi has been appointed as an honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) by King Charles III.

Wits Professor of  Vaccinology Shabir Madhi led the Oxford University sponsored Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials in South Africa

Wits University and the University of Oxford contributed scientifically to informing the public health response to the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa and globally.

Madhi receives the Order in recognition of his services to science and public health in a global pandemic.

Madhi led South Africa and the continent’s first Covid-19 vaccine trials in 2020/2021 as founder and Director of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Wits Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics (Wits VIDA) Research Unit.

An internationally recognised leader in his field, the National Research Foundation A-rated scientist was involved in multiple clinical and serology epidemiology studies on Covid-19, in addition to his research on vaccines against other life-threatening diseases.

The first of (subsequently two) Wits University-led South African Covid-19 vaccine trials, Madhi led the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials in South Africa, in association with the University of Oxford.

Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, University of Oxford, and Madhi’s UK counterpart in these Covid-19 vaccine trials, says of Madhi’s CBE appointment: “I am delighted that Professor Shabir Madhi CBE has been honoured by King Charles for his remarkable contributions to global public health and particularly for his extraordinary leadership in the midst of a global pandemic. It has been a huge privilege for me to work alongside him and his team on the development of the globally impactful Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.”

Over the course of the pandemic (2020-2022), Madhi had been an outspoken, articulate, and ardent advocate of Covid-19 vaccination as well as for increased access to these and other vaccines in Africa.

On his appointment as CBE, Madhi says: “The privilege of being conferred this honour is credit to the tremendous effort of the incredible Wits VIDA research team that I have the privilege of leading at Wits University – before, during and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. As a collective, and together with colleagues at the University of Oxford and in South Africa, we are proud to have contributed scientifically to informing the public health response to the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa and globally.”

Source: Wits University