2015 Rural Health Conference

Date: 23-26 September 2015

Venue: Dunkeld Country Estate, Dullstroom, Mpumalanga

Humane Health Care

'Bringing the heart back into health care practice'

The key conference themes for this years Conference are: 

  • Caring for our Professionals 
  • Caring for the Health System 
  • Caring for the Future 
  • Caring about care, creating skills for good health care

Conference Speakers 

Dr. Elisabeth Weiss 

Recently retired and now Head of Forensic Psychiatric services in Mpumalanga, also involved in managing the psychiatric unit in Tintswalo Hospital . From 1998-2015 Head of Department of Psychiatry Limpopo Province and Senior Lecturer at the University of Limpopo. 17 years of general and psychiatric practice in Transkei from 1976 – 1984, and 1989 – 1998. Training in Psychiatry in Cape Town between 1984-1988.

Key Note Address: A perspective of rural Mental Health in South Africa

Despite the recent attention on mental health from WHO, WFMH, the South African Government with its 2012 National Health Summit and many other organisations, rural mental health remains very often a neglected and invisible item on health and mental health agenda from the police makers to health professionals and the communities. This talk will look at basic strategies which could make mental health more visible in rural communities. 


Prof. Claire Penn 

Claire Penn holds the endowed the Chair of Speech Pathology and Audiology at the University of the Witwatersrand. She is currently the Director of the Health Communication Research Unit with a focus on enhancing intercultural communication and curriculum reform. 

She has worked for many years in the area of child language development and adult language pathology including stroke, brain injury and dementia. Other academic interests include sign language and research ethics. She has received several awards for her research including the Order of Mapungubwe and the Shoprite Checkers Woman of the year category winner.  She is currently rated as an A scientist with the NRF. She is the author of over one hundred academic articles, 23 chapters and 4 books.  She serves on the editorial boards of a number of international journals and her work in the health sector focuses on enhancing intercultural communication in various disease contexts.  She has supervised to completion 20 PhD students and 39 Masters students. She has a continuing interest in clinical work and has served as an expert witness in medico legal matters for over two decades. 

Key Note Address: Ethical issues for multidisciplinary health teams:  Ensuring humane health care 

The presentation will draw on my experience of working in research ethics in the African context, and will focus on principles and a framework of ethical problem solving and their application to some of the unique contextual challenges and special problems encountered in daily practice. This includes the challenge of inter-professional communication, handling linguistic diversity, the impact of HIV Aids and the reality of scarce resources. Using a range of case examples, the presentation will provide a framework of   relevant analysis and problem solving. The notion of vulnerability will described, particularly as it affects people in a rural context and a method suggested for ensuring true informed consent and enhancing decision making capacity. Professionals have an important role to play in advocacy which can be enhanced by embedding ethics into everyday practice.


Dr. Prinitha Pillay 

Dr Prinitha Pillay is currently working for the Rural Health Advocacy Project which focuses on the constitutional right of rural communities to have access to quality health care. Her focus is on advocacy for Human Resources for Health and supporting healthcare workers on how to report healthcare failures. She is currently exploring how advocacy will be part of the health education reform. She previously worked at Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute. She graduated from Wits as a doctor and completed her Masters in Infectious Diseases from the LSHTM (UK). She is an experienced clinician in Infectious Diseases and has worked in many different and dire environments from Lesotho, Sudan, Libya, India, Sierra Leone and in both rural and urban South Africa. She worked with and served as President of Doctors without Borders/Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) South Africa

Keynote Address: Whistleblowing, The need for whistle-blowing in South Africa as a key responsibility and counter measure to lack of accountability and transparency in the health system.


Mr. Bangalie V Kamara 

After spending many years in exile in Guinea as a refugee, Mr. Bangalie V Kamara returned home to complete his degree and graduate as a Physician Assistants (PA) in 2005 in Liberia. He did his internship in 2005 with MSF-Holland and was trained to provide basic anaesthesia with general and local in the operating theater and tasked to screen paediatrics and obstetrics emergencies at the district hospital in Sanniquellie for 2 years and IRC for another 2 years. 

He has worked in Monrovia, the capital for MSF-Belgium as burn and trauma unit anaesthetist for another 19 months. While with MSF-Belgium, he obtained a scholarship from WHO to be trained in Advanced training course in “Enhancing access to human resources for maternal and neonatal survival through task-shifting by training of non-physician clinicians/associate clinicians for comprehensive emergency obstetric care in low-income countries: from scientific evidence to action”. 

In 2014-2015 he worked as an Ebola clinical management team leader for MSF-Belgium and at present he works with MOH&SW and partnering with IRC as a data courier for the post Ebola case investigation and contact tracing officer in Liberia. 

Keynote Address: The role of Physician Assistants in the Ebola response in Liberia

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