Preventative/Community/Public Health Medicine (PHM) is recognized as a medical specialty that primarily strives to improve population health while also strengthening health system effectiveness and service delivery through its focus on Comprehensive Primary Health Care and Health Systems Management. Therefore the inclusion in the 2011 national Human Resources for Health Strategy of district and provincial Public Health Units (PHUs) headed by PHM specialists and with other cadres of public health professionals in the health services seems to neatly dovetail into this perspective. This brief narrative explores the experiences of both authors over the last five years culminating in the Ekurhuleni district PHU.
The aim of the Healthcare 2010 strategy in the Western Cape was to substantially improve the quality of the health service to impact on population health outcomes. It proposed the establishment of a Public Health Unit (PHU) within the Division: District Health Services (DHS) and Programmes. The aim of this unit was to plan, lead, organize and coordinate the provision of Public Health expertise to the entire department in line with key strategic objectives and priorities. This article discusses the engagement of the department with academic institutions leading to setting up the PHU as well as the successes and challenges of this project.
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