RuDASA is a network of rural health care professionals, and provides numerous opportunities for members to connect, share concerns and challenges, highlight good practices and put forward innovative ideas. This is done in various ways and through several different forums, such as a members-only mailing list, periodical newsletters, a provincial representative structure and regular teleconferences. RuDASA members are therefore able to request assistance on a variety of issues. Other doctors can assist by sharing their knowledge and experiences, and where appropriate, the committee can attempt to help to address issues, escalating them through the correct channels by drawing on RuDASA’s collective expertise and partnerships.
RuDASA also aims to be a resource of rural expertise for the South African Government and other stakeholders. We have become involved in a number of initiatives to lobby for and address the needs of rural doctors and other health professionals. RuDASA has taken on a prominent advocacy role in terms of pushing for improved health in rural areas in general, as well as addressing specific topics, such as the availability of posts in rural hospitals and drug shortages. From time to time, RuDASA has issued open letters and press statements, often with partner organizations, to create public awareness of the plight, challenges and successes of rural health care professionals.
Some of RuDASA’s core partners are SECTION27 and the Wits Centre for Rural Health, with whom RuDASA formed the Rural Health Advocacy Project in 2009. Through this partnership RuDASA has contributed to many advocacy issues including the rural-proofing of the Primary Health Care Revitalisation Strategy; advocacy around OSD and the Minimum Service Level Agreement; formulation of and advocacy for short and long term rural recruitment and retention strategies; and the freezing of medical posts, to name a few. Further examples of our advocacy work can be found on www.rhap.org.za.