Welcome to the School of Health Systems and Public Health (SHSPH) 2020 academic year. This is your school for inspiring Public Health excellence in our continent, Africa and abroad. You enter the School at the start of the 2020s, a time when Public Health skills are more significant than ever before. This year marks the beginning of the decade of action as the United Nations has coined the final 10 years of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) era. We have exactly 10 years to achieve the aims of the SDGs in Public Health.
There is a sense of urgency as we sprint towards 2030. The World Health Organization (WHO) listed 13 urgent health challenges[i] for the next decade. In short 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; 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.
I hope that together, using the skills you gain, we will make every effort to transform the health of the public. The School uses state of the art teaching and learning approaches, which I am sure you will enjoy. This includes sharing innovative approaches and best practices from across the globe. The SHSPH encourages multi- and trans- disciplinary engagements in teaching, learning and research to bring hope of better health and protection for the poorest. These principles and values will be applied throughout your stay at the SHSPH.
Enjoy your time at the School.