Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF) and the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ’s) Faculty of Health Sciences have partnered to raise awareness and encourage discussion on public health-related issues through a series of high-level debates. In the second of this series, the panel addressed critical issues from challenges hampering the ability of the public health system to provide treatment, care and support, to legal frameworks and opportunities such as innovative financing mechanisms for global health.

The discussion, which took place at the UJ Doornfontein Campus, was an interesting, honest and lively debate. It was an opportunity that many from the activist community have longed for: to engage with government on problems of delivery and outreach, beyond the science of HIV/AIDS.

The Minister of Health spoke at length and frankly about the state of the health care system in South Africa. He engaged vigorously with the panellists, who were equally forthright about problems, while acknowledging progress made under the current leadership.

A key point raised was the need for proper management. Debate facilitator Prof. Adam Habib catalysed a critical look at the powerful individuals and groups with significant financial backing who have a vested interest in stalling work towards a comprehensive decentralised primary health care service.

The systemic failure of the TB programmes came under attack from medical personal in the audience, an argument put forward by Professor Francois Venter. There was agreement that treatment literacy work has empowered patients living with HIV and has played a central role in progress achieved so far. It should now be extended to the TB epidemic which affects approximately 75% of all people living with HIV in South Africa.

Download the full report: MSF-UJ Debate November 2010 (PDF 197 KB)

Links to the podcasts of previous debates can be found on the MSF website: http://www.msf.org.za/dynamicpages.php?p=62

For further information on future debates and the work of UJ and MSF, visit their websites: