Message from the Chairperson

Welcome to the School of Health Systems and Public Health (SHSPH) at the University of Pretoria – #TheAfricanGlobalUniversity. This is your school for inspiring Public Health excellence in Africa and by implication globally. The SHSPH encourages multi- and trans-disciplinary engagements in teaching, learning and research to bring hope of better health and protection for the poorest.

In addition to being in the final decade of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) era, we are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, which has threatened sustaining progress made towards achieving the SDGs by 2030. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to leverage on our disciplinary diversity in developing innovative solutions to existing and emerging public health challenges. The one health approach, we believe, would be one such solution to strengthening health systems resilience as we step into the future. The pandemic has also called for reimagining the model of public health education, research and practice as we prepare the next generation of public health leaders. There has never been a more exciting time to be involved in public health.

There is a sense of urgency as we sprint towards 2030. The World Health Organization (WHO) listed 13 urgent health challenges for the next decade. These are: Elevating health in the climate debate; Delivering health in conflict and crisis; Making health care fairer; Expanding access to medicines; Stopping infectious diseases; Preparing for epidemics [and pandemics]; Protecting people from dangerous products; Investing in the people who defend our health; Keeping adolescents safe; Earning public trust; Harnessing new technologies; Protecting the medicines that protect us; Keeping health care clean. This list sums up the principles of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), a Human Right entrenched in the WHO constitution of 1948.

For our South African students, the 2020s foresee the introduction of National Health Insurance, which marks the biggest changes to the health system since the removal of apartheid health care. It is the means to achieving universal access to quality health care for all our people, coupled with measures to reduce the heavy burden of disease and socio-economic disparities in health.

Together, we are united in our vision to inspire public health excellence in Africa by conducting game-changing research, deploying innovative teaching and learning approaches and service development, including consultancy and advocacy. Throughout our programme offerings, we prioritise enhancing student experience, whether online or on campus. Our school has a diverse portfolio of research strengths spanning the health professions education, behavioural, population and environmental sciences.

Come join us at the School as we commit to creating a healthier society.

- Author Prof Lekan Ayo-Yusuf

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