KZN business women's association launches healthcare publication

The Business Women’s Association launched its first healthcare publication titled Women Breaking down Barriers – Thought Leadership in Healthcare at the Head Office of Unilever.

The publication, which provides an economic perspective on the healthcare of women in the country, is a compilation of fundamental South African healthcare data related to women.

The views and opinions of 40 intellectual and powerful women in leadership positions including cross-sector groups that recently attended a “Women in Health” leadership summit to present their perspectives and recommendations for the healthcare fraternity are consolidated in the publication.

Antoinette Irvine, Vice President Human Resources at Unilever South Africa said: “Access to quality and affordable healthcare in South Africa has reached critical importance. Health related absenteeism in the workplace is reaching staggeringly high levels and could prove to be costly for the country's economy.

She added that as part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) launched in 2010, the company had a vision to promote high quality healthcare for all South Africans through information sharing and proactive action. The privilege to host the book launch at our premises encapsulates the mutual visions and aspirations of both BWA and Unilever,”

“The USLP is Unilever’s blueprint for sustainable growth and by 2020 the company will help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being. Unilever is on track to meet this 2020 commitment,” concluded Irvine.

Farzanah Mall, National Board Director, Regional Chairperson for BWA and publication editor said: “The publication is unique in that it is the first cross-sector women leadership forum discussion held in South Africa that resulted in a publication on leadership views of women in Healthcare that included participants from both the public and private sector.The formation of public-private partnerships - such as the one between BWA and our sponsors of this publication -Unilever, ABSA, KPMG and Women of Africa - has never been more critical to bring important health issues to the fore.

“Finally we have a publication that provides economic insights into what women feel, think and want in healthcare, including our solutions to ensure an optimal functioning healthcare system for South Africa. The statistics relating to women’s health in SA are startling,” added Mall.

According to the BWA, the private sector caters for approximately 8.7 million (17%) of South Africans and utilises about R122 billion of national healthcare spend while the public sector cares for approximately 42 million (83%) South Africans and consumes R121 billion of the healthcare fiscus.

“It is also interesting that South Africa has more women in leadership positions compared to other similar economies yet we have one of the highest rates of violence against women and children. This is a critical issue and one that affects women on a number of different levels – being the mothers of our children, the care givers and protectors of health.With the response from participants at the summit that culminated in this publication, I realized the importance of these conversations and that together we can make a difference,” concluded Mall.

Some of the prominent leaders and influential business people featured in the publication include Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, Associate Scientific Director – CAPRISA; Thembeka Mchunu - First Lady of the KZN Province, Dr May Mkhize - Doctor, Business and Community activist, Dr Anuschka Coovadia - Senior Health Advisor,KPMG Africa Health Team; Dr Sibongile Zungu, Head of Department – Department of Health KZN; Professor Hoosen (Jerry) Coovadia – Renowned medical icon in SA and an impressive list of CEO’s and leaders from various leading organisations.

The publication, whose content was consolidated and authored by Dr Anuschka Coovadia, reiterates the fact that quality healthcare for all is a constitutional right.

Dr Coovadia said “Today, healthcare systems around the world are experiencing an era of rapid and dramatic change as they struggle to cope with ageing populations, technological advances, rising expectations and spiraling costs. Practical answers to difficult questions are needed, particularly in South Africa where we are in the midst of a quiet revolution in healthcare. It is clear that what our South African market needs is innovation. 

The next 10 years will not only see a paradigm shift in the way the different role players engage, as well as the expectations that patients have, but also a dramatic change in the legislative environment and the role of the State, in the sector. KPMG is honoured to have been involved in the BWA’s Women in Health leadership breakfast.”

Pria Hassan, CEO of Women of Africa Fuels and Oils and a key sponsor of the BWA said “The economy has over the last few years been shaky and healthcare reform has created debates that have made things even more unstable. The reality is that corruption in the health care sector can mean the difference between life and death to many of our people. I share a passion to improve the lives of people in our community and in our country with a revitalized medical management system.”

Targeted primarily at hospital groups, doctors and leaders in healthcare in SA, it will be distributed at key events hosted by the BWA and an e-book will also be made available online.


Unilever South Africa - Unathi Mgobozi External Affairs Manager

+27 31 570 3000
031 570 2470

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