Author Archives: Crystal Lander

How Do You Get to Know a Country? You Start with its History

Today, the delegates joined MSH/South Africa staff on a tour of Johannesburg and Soweto to learn about the history of South Africa before embarking on a week dedicated to learning abut health in one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

The delegates and MSH staff outside of the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. Photo credit: Bright Phiri/MSH.

The delegates and MSH staff outside of the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. Photo credit: Bright Phiri/MSH.

The group’s first stop was the Apartheid Museum. While most people know the official

Inside the Apartheid Museum. Photo credit: Bright Phiri/MSH.

Inside the Apartheid Museum. Photo credit: Bright Phiri/MSH.

government system of the separation of people by race ended just over 20 yeas ago, the impact of the system is still evident today – especially in the health system. The old system was set up to take care of 10-20% of the population and now it must help the entire population. The current government is focused on not only addressing chronic health issues, like HIV/AIDS, but also creating a national health insurance system over the next fifteen years to help address the long term issues of health service access. It feels like a tall order, but this country has done a lot of things others didn’t expect, who knows what’s in store.

After a tour of various areas of Johannesburg, one can see the diversity of the city: big shopping malls, new housing developments, and shanty houses are all common.  After a local South African lunch, the group went to the home of the Father of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, in Orlando West in Soweto. The home is now encased in a building acting as a local museum for visitors from around the world. The building is a permanent reminder of the past and present of the country, a juxtaposition of the way things were and the way they are now.

At the Mandela House in Soweto. Photo credit: Crystal Lander/MSH.

At the Mandela House in Soweto. Photo credit: Crystal Lander/MSH.

One thing is clear: South Africa and Nelson Mandela are linked forever and one hopes the resilience and patience of Mandela will show as the South African democracy continues to grow.