17th Annual Public Health Association of South Africa Conference

The Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA) held their 17th annual conference in eThekwini District, Durban from the 11-15th September 2022. Attended by public health professionals, researchers, policymakers, academics, students, civil society activists, and anyone interested in advancing the interests of health, healthcare and public health. The conference aimed to engage public health practitioners and interested people from around the country and world to share their experiences and research, to discuss topical public health issues as well as facilitate the mentoring of public health students and young researchers.

The SAMRC is an official partner of PHASA, with the theme for this year’s conference being “Building back better: Public Health Resilience and Recovery.”

Over the past two years, South Africa has boldly faced four COVID-19 waves and is now looking towards rebuilding our society and health system to deliver universal health care and improved health outcomes for all. The PHASA 2022 conference provided an ideal setting to stimulate robust discussions on progress made, critical reflections on the challenges encountered, and vibrant dialogue on how to shape a post COVID-19 pandemic health system and world, where all people can attain a state of health that enables them to lead socially and economically productive lives.

Prof Glenda Gray, CEO and President of the SAMRC, was an invited guest speaker and opened the conference with her presentation entitled “Post COVID-19: How science can build resilience in the Health System? The role of science, technology and innovation in dealing with future pandemics.”

Prof Gray mentioned that in the face of the pandemic it was important to respond with research which allowed us to recover. Her presentation outlined some of the lessons learned which centered around:

  1. Investing in protecting the healthcare worker and the health system,
  2. Importance of maintaining surveillance,
  3. Maintain investment in development of local diagnostics,
  4. Investment in vaccine and therapeutics and
  5. Invest in understanding the human toll in a pandemic.

“We need to learn the lessons from COVID-19 and create transformative changes in how we work not only in the health system but at a global level. COVID-19 has impacted several of the SDGs and it will be important to take a global view on the impact and not focus only on the burden on the health care system”, added Gray. Prof Gray also discussed a future preparedness framework which outlines a pandemic preparedness initiative in South Africa as we reform and build a healthcare system with resilience, justice and equity, which is innovative and data driven, and also cost effective.

Also in attendance was the SAMRC’s Prof Salim Abdool Karim (Director - CAPRISA) and Dr Caradee Wright (Chief Specialist Scientist – Environment and Health Research Unit), who both delivered plenary addresses, speaking on the Susser and Stein keynote lecture as well as public health preparedness in managing climate-related disasters, respectively.

To see some moments from PHASA 2022 | click HERE