The Rural Health Conference
The Rural Health Conference has been an annual event since 1996. Initially started as the RuDASA Health Conference conference for rural doctors, it has grown into a vibrant meeting of doctors, nurses, therapists, clinical associates, students NGOs and University lecturers, all interested in improving health care in rural areas. The conferences is now run by a partnership of RuDASA, RuReSA (Rural Rehabilitation South Africa), PACASA (Professional Association of Clinical Associates), and RuNurSA (Rural Nurses South Africa). We are guided by RHAP (Rural Health Advocacy programme) to ensure that the conference recognises the diversity of South Africa, the importance of advocating for better services and seeking presentations on innovations in care and service provision. In 2013 the annual RuDASA Conference was renamed as the annual Rural Health Conference with Rural Rehab South Africa (RuRESA) and the Professional Association of Clinical Associates (PACASA) joining officially as annual conference partners. In 2016 the Rural Nurse Association (RuNurSA) joined as a partner. The overarching aim of the Rural Health Conference is to create a platform for rural health practitioners, partners and stakeholders across the country to connect, share experiences and challenges facing rural health care practitioners and communities, learn from one another, workshop issues such as justice and equity, and advocate for good practice.
The conference usually takes place on a long weekend in September and consists of a 3 day programme of presentations, workshops, and AGMS, as well as evening meals and events. The conference rotates between the Provinces so that health workers have equal opportunities to be able to attend a conference. The conference always takes place in a small town in a rural area, to remind us all about being rural aware ! Moving Provinces also enables us to learn about the challenges in the different areas in South Africa and how people are meeting those challenges. Newcomers to the conference are amazed at the energy and commitment of the people there, as well as the multidisciplinary approach. We really try not to have silo’s for each profession, but to come together to hear, debate and learn from each other. In addition we welcome various exhibitors and have an interesting Exhibition and Poster area.
A highlight of the conference is the Gala Dinner & Award Ceremony. This was inaugurated in 2001, with the annual Pierre Jaques Rural Doctor of the Year Award, and each partner has now set up their Award recognising a health professional who symbolises excellence in rural health care.