PHASA exec Lekgotla 2011 report

The annual PHASA executive committee Lekgotla was held on Wednesday 23 March 2011 in Johannesburg. The aim of this meeting was to review and reflect on PHASA’s performance since the last Lekgotla (April 2010) and to discuss a clear outline of strategic direction and priorities.

In reflecting on PHASA’s achievements since the last Lekgotla, the general feeling was that much progress has been made, with the annual conferences fulfilling an important public health networking function. A highlight of the 2010 conference was the presence and participation of staff from the local Department of Health. Hosting a successful conference in a smaller centre (East London) was also very encouraging.

Organisational functioning has improved since the contracting of a permanent secretariat and better financial processes. PHASA has continued to maintain good relationships with the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA) and has strengthened ties with other African Schools of Public Health and Public Health Associations.

There has been a concerted effort to communicate with members through the newsletters, which are now distributed electronically to around 750 people. The new and improved PHASA website has created a buzz as shown by the volume of visitors to the site, the significant number of new members registered through the website and the correspondence arising from content on the site. Already the website has proven to be an effective tool for communicating public health news, for sharing information on events and career opportunities and creating a forum for discussion and debate.

Other activities that are planned for the coming year include:

  • The PHASA/Colgate-Palmolive Research Award for postgraduate public health students to assist them with conducting/completing research in a relevant area of public health.
  • Further expansion of and support to the special interest groups.
  • The 7th PHASA Conference which will be held from 28 to 30 November 2011 in Johannesburg. The theme of the conference is “Closing the health equity gap: Public health leadership, education and practice”.

As PHASA remains a relatively young organisation that requires ongoing strengthening, the Executive committed itself to: identifying and developing opportunities for activities between conferences; being responsive to members/involvement of members in PHASA; and public health skills building. Several other ideas that were discussed at the Lekgotla included: policy engagement, advocacy and influence; networking/linkages; the need for sustainable funding; and building organizational infrastructure and ensuring membership participation.

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