The 2019 Equity Initiative Fellows traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa May 25-31 for Global Learning I, an immersive experience that exposed them to the culture, history, socio-economic dynamics, and equity challenges of a country outside Asia. Hosted by the School of Public Health at the University of Witwatersrand, Fellows engaged with a wide range of stakeholders to learn and reflect on the following issues:
- South Africa’s recent history – the struggle against apartheid, continuing efforts to remedy its legacy of separation and deprivation, and the day-to-day challenge of increasing social inclusion – was deeply inspiring to Fellows. Fellows learned about the ways in which Nelson Mandela used reconciliation to facilitate healing and promote justice in the post-apartheid era;
- Discussions with specialists on South Africa’s efforts to develop progressive health policies, combined with community visits, storytelling exercises, and informal exchanges with social activists, deepened Fellows’ understanding of how social and political contexts can shape challenges and suggest solutions.
- Fellows found an outstanding example of people-centered primary care at the Chiawelo Community Oriented Primary Care (COPC) in Soweto, which relies upon community healthcare workers – trusted members of the community served, who have a deep understanding of community members’ background and needs – to deliver health services.
Immediately following the week in South Africa, Fellows traveled to the United States for the second part of the Global Learning experience at Harvard University (see related story).