Russell Rensburg is a health activist working towards equitable health access to quality health care for rural and underserved communities and serves as the current RHAP director. He has over 15 years’ experience working on strengthening health systems, with 8 of those spent managing technical assistance in Eastern Africa and South Africa.
He has a strong interest in strengthening the responsiveness of public finance allocation processes towards advancing the realisation of constitutionally enshrined socio-economic rights. He has served as a commissioner on the South Africa Lancet Commission for quality health systems as well on the ministerial task team tasked with the development of the National Human Resources for Health Strategy. He is a partner to Ruth and a father to their four children.
Zimbini helps lead RHAP’s advocacy training through Xa Sisonke Siyaphila and the Voice Project; undertaking community engagement and workshop facilitation.
She is a trained health promoter working on her MSc in Health Promotion at the Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha. She has previously supported RHAP’s water, sanitation, and hygiene work in OR Tambo, and led RHAP’s Eastern Cape community radio programme last year in partnership with the Eastern Cape Health Crisis and Action Coalition (ECHCAC).
She is also an Atlantic Health Equity fellow based at TEKANO, South Africa.
Cassandra has been with RHAP for the last 2 and a half years. She started off as an Intern in 2019 and was later promoted to her current position of Project Officer in 2020. She obtained her Bachelor of Public Health at Monash South Africa in 2017 and went on to achieve a certificate in Healthcare Services Management in 2019. Cassandra plans on furthering her education and looks forward to obtaining her Honors, Masters and PhD qualifications in the future.
While at Monash she had the privilege of being a part of a student association that promoted health and brought awareness on the importance of healthcare to fellow students. Cassandra found her passion for helping the underprivileged whilst engaging in community service at an NGO in her final year. Since then, her love for helping others and trying to make a change for the betterment of society has grown.
Cassandra aims to put all her knowledge and skills in Public health to good use while she advocates for better access to Healthcare for rural communities. Her wish is that we as a country achieve the goal of bringing equal access to healthcare to all citizens no matter where they are located.
Wisani is a social activist whose passion lies in community mobilisation and strengthening the public health system. He helps lead RHAP’s advocacy training through Xa Sisonke Siyaphila and the Voice Project; undertaking community engagement and workshop facilitation.
Wisani is a seasoned community organiser and health educator, who came up through TAC and has strong relationships with health and justice organisations in the province. He has also completed a Marketing and Communications Diploma.
Eunice is currently completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health at the University of Pretoria. She holds a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree with honours in bioethics and law from the University of the Witwatersrand.
Eunice says, “Studying bioethics and health law has helped me see the many challenges and social injustices that South Africans face daily, particularly those in marginalised communities. My undergraduate and postgraduate study sparked my passion for public health research, health advocacy, and learning about ways in which I can play my part in improving the quality of our country’s public health system.”
Eunice has hopes of being a public health specialist in the field of health policy and advocacy.
The Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP) a division of WITS HEALTH CONSORTIUM is a national organisation that advocates equitable access to quality health services for rural communities in South Africa. We work in partnership with government, civil society, health workers and communities across South Africa to identify, support and advance health policy and financing strategies that address the historical and entrenched inequities within the public health sector that systematically disadvantage rural areas and South Africa’s most vulnerable populations. Over the next decade, we aim to influence the health system’s reorganisation under the National Health Insurance fund (NHI) to ensure equitable access to quality health services for all South Africans, regardless of socio-economic status or where they live.
Ensuring that existing and new policies speak to the rural context and properly protect the right to health for rural communities.
Promoting adequate budgeting, efficient spending, and accountable processes that improves access to rural health care.
Advocating for more equitable distribution of advocacy-competent health care workers in rural health care.
Documenting and acting on service delivery problems, and encouraging good practices in rural areas by working strategically
We believe that achieving more responsive policies, adequate funding, sufficient health care workers, and effective implementation contributes towards strengthening our rural healthcare systems. Driving this process, however, requires an active and empowered Voice from Rural Communities and Health Care Workers.
RHAP is a division of the Wits Health Consortium.
To further support effective governance and direction, RHAP also has an independent Board of voluntary representatives from rural health worker associations, communities, academia, human rights lawyers, civil society partners and thematic experts.
Our vision cannot be achieved by RHAP alone. We are grateful for the many partner organisations that have over the years supported, strengthened, and complemented the work of the Rural Health Advocacy Project.
A special acknowledgement to Atlantic Philanthropies who provided seed funding that led to the establishment of RHAP in 2009, and for their years of ongoing support.
We also thank our current donors that continue to make significant investments in the work and mandate of the RHAP, including the Open Society Foundation, The Raith Foundation, Global Health Advocacy Incubator, and Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.