25 July 2019: Cape Town, South Africa: Exceptional professionals and organisations in the healthcare sector were celebrated on Monday evening at the 20th annual Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF) of Southern Africa in recognition of the contribution they have made to the growth of the industry in the sub-Saharan Africa region.

Professor Sheila Mokoboto-Zwane, who was one of the judges in this year’s awards, reaffirmed the role of healthcare as a key driver to economic growth, and reminded guests of the importance of acknowledging the positive contribution of diligent professionals who have gone above the call of duty to facilitate access to healthcare.

“These awards have gone a long way towards motivating healthcare professionals to be consistently diligent and unwavering in their quest to facilitate access to quality healthcare. They have also provided the participants with an opportunity to share best practice and insights on how to overcome barriers and give best service to patients regardless of the circumstances. They have also created linkages and promoted partnerships between the public and private sectors and provided a unique platform for networking and collaboration,” said Mokoboto-Zwane.

Delivering the keynote address at the gala awards event, Dr Mathume Joseph Phaahla, Deputy Minister National Department of Health, said the awards were evidence of the medical schemes industry’s commitment to the provision of affordable and quality healthcare.

“I am happy to see that an organisation that largely brings together custodians of healthcare financing is not just interested in the financial viability and sustainability of its members, but is also interested in the bigger picture that is the accessibility and quality of what it is financing – the actual health services,” he said.

“President Ramaphosa made it clear in the state of the nation address that he regards health as an apex priority for himself and his government. He has also made it clear that he wants to take direct stewardship of the drive to achieving universal health coverage,” added Phaahla.

Dr Phaahla announced that the president will soon sign a compact with all relevant stakeholders in healthcare. He congratulated the recipients of this year’s awards, and said he hoped that others would emulate their example in order to sustain the momentum towards the provision of quality healthcare services.

The fifth edition of the Titanium Awards saw the inclusion of a new category known as the Best Paper Award. The award seeks to promote a balance of scientific rigour and relevance to the industry so that science is accessible to member trustees. Shivani Ranchod became the first winner of the Best Paper Award.

The nominees vied in various categories to secure a place on the winner’s podium. The winners in each category are as follows: 

Titanium Award for Excellence in creating Access to Healthcare: The Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) scooped the winner’s prize in this category. The award was conferred to GEMS in recognition of its initiatives aimed at facilitating access to healthcare.

Titanium Award for Best Healthcare Media Content: Primedia Cape Talk’s Pippa Hudson and Amy Rae Rispel were announced as the winners in this category. This award recognises health journalists for the contribution they have made towards raising awareness of healthcare issues through their reporting.

Titanium Award for Health Facilities (Hospitals, Primary Care, etc – Private and Public sectors): This award acknowledges individual healthcare facilities in the public and private sectors whose innovations and systems result in efficiency in the delivery of quality healthcare. Alliance Care was named as the winner in this category.

Titanium Award for Young Achiever: Anele Siswana was named as the winner of this category. The award celebrates young professionals who have made a notable impact in the healthcare industry and also seeks to promote effective succession within the sector to sustain the future of the medical profession. Anele walked away with R50 000 in prize money.

Titanium Award for Service to Membership: Open, Closed and Self-Administered Medical Schemes, Administrators and Managed Care Organisations: This award was conferred to Hosmed in recognition of the strides it has achieved to provide the best service to its members. The award recognises industry excellence and unprecedented contributions to members by providing value for money.

Titanium Award for the Best Paper: The category awards the best paper, which should provide information that is relevant to the intended readers and adds new knowledge. Nominees were judged on relevance, clarity, soundness or correctness, and completeness of their papers. The award is an attempt to ensure that the industry is evidence-based. Ms Shivani Ranchod was named as the winner in this category.

Titanium Award for Outstanding Achievement: The category celebrates any individual who has made outstanding and exceptional contributions to the healthcare industry to promote, grow, improve and advance the healthcare sector over a number of years. Dr Brian Ruff was named as the winner in this category.

Dr Humphrey Zokufa Lifetime Achievement Award: This award recognises any individual who has made a significant contribution to the healthcare industry over a number of years. The late Professor Sam Ferhsen was honoured with the award in this category. His daughter, Renita Fehrsen-du Toit, accepted the award on his behalf. Speaking about her father’s contributions to healthcare outcomes in South Africa, she said: “He always had a passion to care for people and after he retired from academia, he started a medical aid that enabled even lower income people to afford private healthcare services. If I learned one thing from my father it is to always be ethical.”

The family announced that they will donate the prize money of R50 000 to the Ian Murray Fund, an organisation which facilitates medical students’ trips to rural areas.

Dr Brian Ruff, CEO at PPO Serve, the recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Healthcare Award, had this to say: “What we are trying to do, a nod to the National Health Insurance and universal healthcare, is pioneer a new model of healthcare delivery that is able to deliver high volume, high quality work at low cost. The recognition from BHF is very welcome.”

Speaking on behalf of the Gift of the Givers Foundation, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman provided insights on the need for excellence in healthcare across sectors and boundaries, sharing more about the work of the organisation in providing relief in conflict zones and areas ravaged by natural disasters.

He shared anecdotes from his 27-year experience in conflict ridden countries like Syria, Bosnia, Somalia and Haiti. In 1993, Gift of the Givers designed the world’s first containerised mobile hospital – an authentic African solution – which the international community hailed for being equal to some of the best hospitals in Europe. The containerised hospital was set up in Bosnia and housed a theatre unit, sterilisation unit, burns unit and orthopaedic facility.

“Africans don’t believe in Africa. Africans don’t believe in their own skill and are always looking for northern countries to find something better. Through our technology and engineering we as a country and continent can work wonders if we have the learning and knowhow from universities and the determination to help other people. South Africans are not afraid of danger. In fact, for war zones, we have more hands up than for any other disaster.

“If this is the kind of compassion and skill we have to deliver this kind of service all over the world, then surely medical aids, corporate companies and government can work together for the benefit of our people in South Africa,” said Dr Sooliman.

“It gives us the opportunity as medical professionals, medical aid schemes, public services, government and private hospitals, to think of what we can do together for fellow human beings in South Africa and Africa if there is selflessness, lack of greed and compassion.”

Dr Katlego Mothudi, Managing Director of BHF, announced that BHF is pledging R200 000 to Gift of the Givers and called on delegates and member schemes to match its pledge to support the work done by the organisation.

“We are humbled and gratified by the diligent work that Gift of the Givers and the winners are doing to facilitate access to healthcare. In most instances many of you had to overcome serious challenges, be they physical or policy orientated, but you have soldiered on and given comfort and dignity to those who are most vulnerable. Let us go there and draw inspiration from the positive stories, while we explore how these can be successfully replicated in our own environments,” concluded Dr Mothudi.