Bridging HIV Research and Multimorbidity at the 7th Public Health Conference

by MMC
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The 7th Africa Public Health Conference, scheduled for October 17-19, 2023 at the Gallagher Convention Center in Johannesburg, comes at a critical time for global health.

This year’s theme, “Population Health and Preventive Medicine,” explores pressing issues such as noncommunicable diseases, maternal and child health, and notably the growing global epidemic of multimorbidity.

Adding weight to the discourse is Dr Tshegofatso Maimela, a public health medicine specialist at the Gauteng Department of Health. It will focus on South Africa’s pioneering work in HIV research as it intersects with multimorbidity.

Dr Maimela’s recent research, conducted in Tshwane, South Africa, examined the link between HIV and COVID-19. Its findings showed that people living with HIV were not at increased risk of mortality from COVID-19 – as were concerns about the pandemic due to the high prevalence of HIV in South Africa.

This work revealed how HIV affects the body’s response to other diseases that have actually contributed to higher mortality and morbidity following COVID 19.

This knowledge has provided a new perspective on combating multimorbidity and reducing negative population health consequences due to living conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity. His research highlights the need for health care strategies that go beyond siled approaches to disease management and prevention. As such, Dr. Maimela’s voice adds powerfully to the plea for a more comprehensive and integrated framework to address the multifaceted challenges of multimorbidity.

“Understanding the complexity of multimorbidity states related to conditions such as HIV, COVID-19 and other prevalent conditions improves our approach to managing the complex presentation of these conditions and the challenges of providing coordinated care to the many patients with multimorbidity profiles within our siled healthcare system. “, says Dr. Maimela.

“We can no longer afford to treat diseases as isolated phenomena; we need to take a more holistic approach; an approach that recognizes the interconnectedness of these health challenges and their impact on individuals, families, communities and workplaces. This conference constitutes an essential platform to advance this crucial dialogue,” she adds.

Accompanying Dr Maimela in leading the conference discussions is the new conference chair, Dr Chauntelle Bagwandeen, a distinguished public health medicine specialist from the University of KwaZulu Natal and a leading medical expert. A fitting guide to these discussions, Dr. Bagwandeen’s work has been instrumental in understanding the nature and spread of sexually transmitted infections in sub-Saharan Africa.

Together, they will present an interactive public speaking format during the session, aiming to foster an environment of collaborative innovation and knowledge sharing.

The conference, in partnership with the South African Public Health Preventive Medicine Association (SAPHPMA), attracts a diverse audience, ranging from senior health sector executives to government officials, providing a unique platform for cross-sector engagement .

Participants will not only gain insight into the complexities of multimorbidity, but will also have the opportunity to delve into maternal and child health issues, stroke prevention and advances in tuberculosis diagnosis. The event will provide fertile ground for discussions that will shape the future trajectory of public health on the African continent.

Last year’s conference, led by Dr Atiya Mosam and in partnership with the South African Association of Public Health and Preventative Medicine, saw industry leaders come together to discuss health leadership public and reinvent how to instill resilience in African health systems. This is an important step towards promoting a collaborative environment between international, national and regional actors.

Building on this foundation, this year’s event aims to deepen these dialogues, reflecting on learnings from past years, exploring concrete solutions and refining best practices in public health.

Those interested in attending will find a wealth of professional development and networking opportunities. The conference is particularly beneficial for public health specialists, government officials and healthcare professionals interested in gaining a nuanced understanding of pressing health challenges and contributing to a healthier future for African communities.

The conference promises to be an indispensable forum for industry leaders committed to advancing public health systems across Africa.

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