The 11th Annual South African Association of Health Educationalists (SAAHE) Conference congregated in Umhlanga this year and drew national and international health science educators.

SAAHE has a number of agendas; the first being to showcase best practice in health sciences education, stimulate debate and discussion regarding the education of health practitioners, and to develop teaching and educational research capacity in health sciences educators.

SAAHE is an association of health sciences educators from South African universities, NGOs as well as government and private sectors. The focus of SAAHE is on improving the quality of teaching and learning in health sciences education so as to enhance the delivery of high quality, affordable and sustainable health care to South Africans in both the public and private sector. The SAAHE community is made up of predominantly physicians but there are an increasing number of professionals in the Allied Health Sciences, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurses and a range of other professional disciplines. All members are committed to improving teaching and learning in medical and health professional education.

Officially opening the 2018 SAHEE Conference, SAAHE National Executive and SAHEE KZN Chair, Dr Veena Singaram, said the theme: Deconstructed, decentralised, decolonised discourses and debates: Widening our horizon, was perfectly fitting for the annual conference since this is aimed at opening delegate’s interpretation as they will relate to their specific areas in health professions education.

Said Professor Ncoza Dlova, the Dean of the School of Clinical Medicine at the University of KwaZulu- Natal, ‘SAHEE provides us with a perfect platform to positively influence each other, share thoughts and spark debate amongst us in the education of health practitioners.’

Addressing delegates, Professor Elelwani Ramugondo from the University of Cape Town said, ‘The term “decolonisation” has seen significant prominence in South Africa and a resurgence globally since the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall moments. It is a term that carries significant hope for some, yet many myths have been created to scare off others. Such myths need to be debunked or exposed as attempts to protect the “status quo”. Within health sciences, it is important to deconstruct both decolonisation and the “status quo”’, said Ramugondo.

‘Consider that students experience a lot of stress and cases of depression amongst students is on the rise due to academic pressure. Today, I challenge all health educators to make our learning experience more enjoyable and relatable,’ said Kapil Narain, fifth-year Medical student at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine who was a guest speaker at the official opening of this conference.

Words and photographs: Lihle Sosibo