U21 Johannesburg

University of Johannesburg, South Africa
18-22 September 2017

The theme of this year’s meeting was “Global Health: Challenges, Constraints and Implementation Models.  It was hosted by Andre Swart and his team from the University of Johannesburg.  Details of the conference may be found on their web site

Soweto Township, Johannesburg

On the first day of the conference, the Doctoral Student Forum took place “Sustaining Communities through my Research” was the title of the day.  This is designed to enable and facilitate international networking opportunities for doctoral student participants. Major segments include master-classes; presentations and critiques of participating doctoral students’ work; Q&As and poster presentations. The forum aim is to focus on students projects and to network with fellow students across the network.

The second day featured the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Workshop.  This covered the SDG Awareness Week, the Global Learning Partnership, SDG Student Workshops and SDG Case Studies. The U21 SDG is the U21 HSG’s longest-running initiative. As they continue the work to support the implementation of the SDGs in university curricula, they are looking for new members to join their working group and make sure they have a truly diverse representation of universities and disciplines.

The opening session of the main conference was on Global Health and covered the subject of “The seven tactics unhealthy commodity industries use to undermine public health”. This was a thought provoking lecture by Prof Rob Moodie, University of Melbourne.   He showed that big business dominates health messages in the areas of alcohol and sugar.  He put the argument forward that the big soft drink companies push their brands leading to the present day problems posed by non-communicable diseases.  This theme was continued by Dr Nolunthando Nematswerani, Discovery Health Care, who looked at Private/Public Partnerships and Global Health.  Prof Per-Olof Östergren, Lund University discussed the constraints that hinder us being able to achieve Global Health and how to tackle them.

The conference featured a presentation on the Universitas 21 network and also a workshop by the U21 HSG Teaching Excellence Award Recipients.  Their talk on Turning Moral Distress into Moral Resilience included a large amount of audience participation.

ConferenceOur very own Caroline Bradbury-Jones (UoB-nursing) led on the subject of Gender based violence providing evidence that this is a global topic that needs tackling. This was followed by a talk on Childrens’ environmental health Prof Angela Mathee, UJ/SA Medical Research Council.

Other subjects covered in the conference included a session on Mental Health and the ongoing global problems. The continuing problem of managing HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in a society with high levels of inequality was another session that was highlighted in the converence.

The U21 Health Sciences Group run very successful Summer Schools for all Undergraduate Health Students.  “Global Health and the Social Determinants of Health” was the theme of the summer school hosted by the University of Johannesburg 2017 was outlined by Mr. Sibusiso Mdletshe, University of Johannesburg.  It brought together students from all interdisciplinary backgrounds.

The U21 Health Sciences Summer School 2018 will be held in Lund and details may be found on the website

aVisit-to-Wits-01On the final day, each of the health groups reported on their activities.  The dentistry group who included Prof Walmsley and Dr Morris had the opportunity to visit the dental school at the University of Witswaterand (Wits).  We met with the dental staff and discussed education, research and other activities.  The hospital is extremely busy but the preclinical and clinical area were well resource and the throughput of patients is very impressive.

There was a strong presence from the College of Medical and Dental Sciences and the group consisted of the following

John Morris, Dentistry, Institute of Clinical Sciences (ICS)
Damien Walmsley, Dentistry, ICS
Caroline Bradbury-Jones, Nursing, ICS
Julie Taylor, Nursing, ICS
Robbie Roberts, Head of Administration, MDS
Anthony Cox, Pharmacy, ICS
Laura Jones, Institute of Applied Health Research

Conference3aThere was also a touch of sadness as we said goodbye to the Executive Officer, Caroline Voisine, who has done so much for the U21 Health Sciences Group and we wish her well on her future career at the University of British Columbia.  We also welcome Corinna Greenwood who will be the new incoming Executive Officer.  Corinna will be based at the College of Medical and Dental Sciences and we look forward to working with her on the ongoing projects with the U21 Health Sciences Group.

There was also the opportunity to visit Johannesburg and the highlight was the trip to Soweto and the tour of Nelson Mandela’s house.  It was very humbling to see the home of one of the great statesmen of the world.