South Africa: Community Health and Social Policy
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Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
Students visit a number of hospitals in Durban, in small groups. This is an opportunity to directly observe the varying quality of healthcare facilities, invariably noting the great work done by dedicated health workers who provide the best service they can, often in difficult contexts.
Visiting Special Needs Schools
The South African Apartheid Government set up a number of special needs schools for whites only. Most of these schools have since been transformed into multiracial schools, but the number of schools remains insufficient.
The current government wants to move toward inclusion, closing specialized schools and having students attend regular schools. SIT students consider the resources, challenges, and benefits associated with special needs schools and discuss the cost-benefit of special education. For comparison, students also visit a traditional school.
Visiting Nongovernmental Organizations
Student visit a number of NGOs, which deliver health services in spaces that government does not. Students consider the challenges governments can face in delivering services on a small scale in holistic ways.
In the past, NGOs like The Valley Trust provided primary health care to black communities that the apartheid government neglected and oppressed; presently, these NGOs continue to provide services working in tandem with government and funders in areas that are difficult to operate in. Other NGOs, like Onevoice, work in government schools to complement the life skills programs in the curriculum and make an impact regarding behavioral changes necessitated by the HIV epidemic.
Community Health Worker Home Visit
Students spend two days with a community health worker at Amatikulu. They attend a lecture given by a health worker trainer and compare policy with practice.
The effects of poverty and chronic illnesses on rural South Africans are starkly apparent, and students see the benefits and limitations of using community workers to administer prevention and basic treatment programs. The government-run Amatikulu Primary Health Training Centre emphasizes education and self help. This is compared to NGO initiatives that use CHWs to provide first aid, assist with deliveries, and provide home-based care for chronic patients.
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