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Confronting COVID-19 and health inequalities

By Wits School of Public Health 14 April 2021

The Coronavirus Pandemic has amplified the existing inequalities and fractures in South Africa, which remains one of the most unequal countries in the world. Dr Nobuhle Judy Dlamini, the first woman Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg will present the 2021 Sefularo-Sheiham Memorial Lecture on Health Equity on 20 April 2021.

Hosted by the Wits School of Public Health, Dr Dlamini will highlight the scientific evidence on COVID-19 and the social determinants of health inequalities, and their intersection with gender, race and class disparities in South Africa. As a trailblazer and role model, Dr Dlamini will reflect on the imperative of ethical leadership at all levels of society. She will challenge government, academics and civil society at large to confront health inequities, and the imbalances in power and resources that mitigate against equity.  Dr Dlamini will make the case for strategies to ensure a socially just post-pandemic recovery in South Africa. 

The annual Sefularo-Sheiham Memorial Lecture on Health Equity is made possible through a generous endowment by the late Professor Aubrey Sheiham, a Wits alumnus, and his wife, a distinguished philosopher Dr Helena Cronin-Sheiham, based at the London School of Economics. The endowment is known as the Sheiham Family/Wits programme on Social Determinants of Health and Health Inequality. The late Aubrey Sheiham, was Professor of Dental Public Health at University College London, a global pioneer in public health and a highly respected scholar. He was an inspirational teacher, mentor, researcher and advocate for evidence-based health policies and social justice.

In addition to honouring Professor Aubrey Sheiham, the annual memorial lecture honours the legacy of another distinguished Wits alumni, the late Dr Molefe Sefularo, also a passionate and committed advocate for health equity and social justice. Dr Sefularo was the Deputy Minister of Health at the time of his untimely death in April 2010. He studied public health at Wits, before his appointment as the inaugural MEC for Health in North West Province. 

Other eminent speakers who will precede the main lecture by Dr Dlamini are Professor Sir Michael Marmot from the Institute of Health Equity at University College London, Professor Richard Watt, Chair and Honorary Consultant in Dental Public Health at University College London; Ms Masechaba Sefularo, journalist and daughter of the late Dr Sefularo and Dr Gwendoline Ramokgopa.

The annual lecture is part of and complements the Sheiham Family/Wits Programme that comprises research and doctoral scholarships focusing on the social determinants of health, and health inequalities. The lecture series aim to influence and shift the public discourse on the unacceptability of societal and health inequalities and to promote greater advocacy and action to achieve a more egalitarian society in South Africa.

To register for this virtual event, please click here DM

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