Dean and Head of UKZN’s School of Nursing and Public Health, Professor Mosa Moshabela, and Professor Lucy Gilson of the University of Cape Town’s School of Public Health and Family Medicine led an informative online discussion on global health, development and colonialism.
The debate examined power and privilege with a focus on re-distribution of power in a feasible and effective manner at the international, national and local levels of global health.
Gilson spoke on health care and the health care system. ‘Health care usually refers specifically to the actions practitioners take or things they do related to health such as seeing a patient or prescribing medicine, while the system involves broader issues.’
She said the terms “healthcare system” and the “health system” were sometimes used interchangeably.
‘Some people say that “health systems” is a much broader term that also incorporates public health, whereas the “healthcare system” tends to emphasise clinical, patient-oriented services.
Moshabela, a trained clinician, shared how experiences he had growing up in a rural area influenced his thinking about health, power and privilege.
‘What we value we perceive to be more important than what others value. Sometimes it’s important to recognise other people’s values and to know what they value and not try to impose our own.’ he said.
‘It is important to learn about your patients’ beliefs and understanding so that you know who they are and where they come from.’
Moshabela said many people saw clinics and hospitals as little islands and colonies that impose Western ideology. The consultation experience in homes was so different from clinic and hospital encounters.
‘Health is not only about saving lives but about restoring dignity in the way we engage with our patients,’ said Moshabela.
Gilson said personnel in health systems needed to become more aware of their patients’ traditions and history.’
Moshabela shared experiences during his three-month-stay at Columbia University in New York City where he learned a lot about the people there, tapping into their knowledge and practices.
He spoke about the privilege of learning and being able to help others, saying people should not be blinded by the power of money given by donors.
Click here for the full discussion.
Words: Nombuso Dlamini