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Sep 04
Education to fight inequality in the health system

​Health Systems Trust researcher and GIS (Geographic Information Systems)  expert Noluthando Ndlovu  was one of this year's participants in The Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity in South Africa programme. She has an MSc in Environmental Science, specialising in spatial epidemiology.

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Hosted by TEKANO, the programme selects up to 30 fellows each year to participate in a programme of learning and experience that will enhance their ability to inspire and secure progressive social change. Tekano, founded in December 2016, is an organization based at the Isivivana Centre, Khayelitsha and works towards social justice and health equity.

"The programme runs around the world, in 48 countries and in 5 continents," explains Ndlovu. "In South Africa the programme focuses on health inequity, with approximately 25 fellows coming from different disciplines such as anthropology, law, environmental health, finance and of course public health".

I decided to apply because I am a researcher so I wanted to gain some context of all the data that we gather and work with across the public health system and to get a deeper understanding of the issues. We know that social determinants of health such as environmental and socio-economic issues are a major factor. For example, when treating a patient with TB it is important not just to understand the disease but to understand the whole context and underlying causes. In this way we can build more holistic approaches to issues affecting the public health system. It was also fascinating to learn about preventative approaches to healthcare instead of only focusing on the curative.

I wanted to develop my activism skills, so as a researcher it was great to learn from other fellows who come from social movements. I was able to meet and interact with people from different walks of life that I wouldn't usually be exposed to.

If you want to make a difference this programme will provide you with the network and some resources to tackle these issues. It also really helps to gain and strengthen skills in areas which are not necessarily your focus area. 

I would encourage anyone who meets the criteria to apply, as it really gave me a broader understanding of the issues facing the public health system in a country like South Africa which is one of the most unequal in the world.

To learn more about the programme please go to

https://www.tekano.org.za/apply

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