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SADAG was proud to be a part of the Rural Health Conference (RHC) which was held in Taung in the North West Province. This was the 21st anniversary of the RHC and was attended by members of the Rural Doctors Association of Southern Africa (RuDaSa), Rural Rehabilitation South Africa (RuReSa), Rural Nurses South Africa (RuNurSA), Professional Association of Clinical Associates of South Africa (PACASA) and registered Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) working in rural health.

The main aim of the RHC was to create a platform for rural health practitioners, partners and stakeholders to connect and share experiences regarding the challenges and opportunities that are available in the rural health space. The Conference Programme which began on Friday, 22 September 2017 and ended on Monday, 25 September 2017 was guided by the Rural Health Advocacy Programme (RHAP) to ensure that the RHC recognises the diversity that is present in South Africa, the importance of advocating for better services and providing presentations on innovations that are available in health-care and service provision.

SADAG was delighted to have submitted an abstract on the use of Speaking Books as an innovative tool to address mental health and health-literacy issues in rural populations, which was accepted for presentation at the RHC. Anne Rajcoomar, Project Manager at SADAG made the necessary presentation which was well-received by the attendees. Every attendee also received their own copy of a Speaking Book which they were encouraged to share with their patients and/ or health partners.

SADAG also hosted an Exhibition Stand at the RHC which was manned by Thandi Shabalala. A variety of mental health materials were disseminated amongst the attendees which consisted of mental health brochures (Depression, Bipolar, PTSD, Teen Suicide and Say No to Drugs), wristbands, key-holders and journals.

According to Dr. Ndiviwe Mphothulo (Conference Chairperson), “The RHC affords us an opportunity to offer support to each other, as we continue to serve and comfort our rural communities amidst trials and tribulations thrown at us by the dysfunctional aspects of our healthcare system. Most importantly though, and most relevant to this year’s conference, we are afforded yet another opportunity to share in the lessons learned by our members, partners, friends and colleagues in the frontline and coalface of the work we do in rural health.”

SADAG will continue to advocate for the needs of patients with mental illnesses and to reduce the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illnesses. The Speaking Books are an ideal tool to improve knowledge of mental illnesses whilst using audio-visual stimulation to see, hear, listen and understand the information better. These durable hard cover books are battery operated and have the added benefit of being available in a variety of languages across a variety of topics. If you would like further information on Speaking Books please log onto www.speakingbooks.com or contact SADAG on 011-234 4850.