Day 2: Social change. agency. leadership and power

Activity 5: Panel Discussion – Social Change – Spain, South Africa and Latin America

Day 2: Social change. agency. leadership and power

Activity 5: Panel Discussion – Social Change – Spain, South Africa and Latin America

2 hours


To help us to:

  • Get an overview of the impact of neoliberalism on health in 3 countries or regions –  South Africa, Spain and Latin America
  • Gain an understanding of the response of social movements in each of these countries or regions to address health equity
  • Deepen comparative learning about health equity and social change
  • Enable Fellows to draw lessons and implications from the experiences of activists and movements in other countries and regions
  • Extract lessons for South Africa from these examples
  • Look at strategies for social change, and consider ways to achieve it

Task 1
Panel discussion: Social movements in struggle against the neoliberal health trajectory

As preparatory reading for this activity, Tekano Fellows will have been reminded of one key reading from Module 3 and a second new reading. Both links and references appear at the end of this activity. Two Fellows will have volunteered to collaborate, to open this panel discussion – 5 minutes. The chair of this panel activity, will open and then welcome the two Tekano Fellows, to set the scene and offer a maximum two-minute provocation, drawing on the readings.  

Panelists will each have 15 minutes to present their insights and analysis of the countries and regions that we are considering in this activity – South Africa, Spain and Latin America. After each panel member’s presentation, we will have 5 minutes for questions of clarity, not engagement. This will total a maximum of 1 hour 20 minutes. 

Each panelist will: 

  • Sketch the political and social context in terms of health and human rights of that country or region (or just add angles of insight, if already covered by a previous panelist) 
  • Provide an overview of the impact of neoliberalism on health in the country or region that they have expertise on
  • Offer insights into the evolving responses of social movements within each country or region, and the extent to which social movements have acted collectively to defend and advance the right to health
  • Share their perspective on these experiences and lessons from the countries or regions that they have expertise in. 

In the next 30 minutes, we will have a plenary conversation that draws out comparative analysis between these countries and regions, and what the key common and different features are that make for sustained social change, and shifts in power relations and collective agency.

The final 5 minutes of this engagement, will see all Tekano Fellows work animatedly in plenary to distill what the key lessons are for health equity activists in South Africa today.  

Background reading material
  1. Vasquez E, Perez-Brumer A, Parker R ‘Social inequities and contemporaray struggles for collective health in Latin America’ in Global Public Health Journal, Volume 14, 2019, Issue 6-7 Special Issue, 777-790 
    Snapshot:  At a time when global health worldwide has been pushed to adopt increasingly conservative agendas in the wake of an extended global financial crisis, the rise of radical right populist politics, and the rupture of liberal democratic regimes, attention to legacies of Latin America’s epistemological innovations and social movement action are especially warranted.

    Previously prescribed as a reading, so this should just be a refresh reading – 

  2. Scott V, Schaay N, Schneider H, Sanders D ‘Addressing social determinants of health in South Africa: the journey continues’ in South African Health Review 2017, Health Systems Trust, Chapter 8, 77-87 
    Snapshot:  Obesity is used as a case study to illustrate how action to address these determinants is required at different levels in the health system, and in partnership with other sectors. The evidence is then used to interrogate the National Development Plan and the Primary Health Care (PHC) Re-engineering Strategy as two major policy instruments that have the potential to address social determinants.

Our Panel:

The panel brings together critical perspectives on Spanish, South African and Argentinian from four reputed intellectual social change activists with wide experience in critiquing health equity struggles:  

Moderator: Lorena Nunez Carrasco, Associate Professor Wits (Sociology) 

Lorena is a feminist, medical anthropologist, interdisciplinary scholar and Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.She began her work as a researcher and feminist activist in the women’s movement in Chile and Latin American in the mid ’80s and ’90s supporting women’s emancipation and leadership in social movements, during and post Pinochet’s dictatorship. She holds an MA in Development Studies from the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) and a PhD in Medical Anthropology from Leiden University. She coordinates and teaches in the Master’s Programme in Health Sociology at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her ongoing comparative project examines migration, gender and healthcare in post-authoritarian regimes in both Chile and South Africa. She has an interest in the topic of dying and death in the context of migration and displacement in Southern Africa, a topic she is currently researching in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Public Health Expert Latin America: Gonzalo Basile

Gonzalo is from Argentina, but resides in the Dominican Republic with periods in Haiti. He is an epidemiologist and a social scientist, with a doctorate in International Health (UAB, Barcelona). He is currently director of the International Health program of FLACSO, Dominican Republic (Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences). He is regional coordinator of the GT of International Health and Sanitary Sovereignty of CLACSO (Latin American Council of Social Sciences). He is the principal investigator of agreements with the Institutes of Public Health Research of the Caribbean and is visiting Professor at the National Laboratory of Public Health, Epidemiology and Research (Haiti). He is a professor of Master’s and Doctoral programs in public health at multiple universities in Latin America and the Caribbean. He has experience in the design, evaluation and management of South-South international cooperation programs in Health in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.

People’s Health Movement South Africa (PHM SA): Tinashe Njanji 

Tinashe is a Senior Fellow at Tekano. He is a social justice and human rights activist, and an adult educator with over 10 years’ experience in community mobilisation and working with grassroots organisations. He is currently the coordinator of the People’s Health Movement (PHM) in South Africa, where he is responsible for project management and the coordination of the national PHM SA office. He also runs community workshops and training, mainly in disadvantaged and affected communities. He currently leads PHM SA’s work on the People’s Vaccine. Tinashe cites his passion as working for socio- economic justice for all, including the social determinants of health. In addition to the PHM SA he is part of a number of social justice organisations and social movements including Cape Town TV, Africa Unite, Institute for Justice and Reconciliation and is one of the founding activists of both the Social Justice Coalition and the Right2Know Campaign. He recently obtained a diploma in Adult Education at the University of Cape Town.

Health and Social Sector Officer: Baba Aye

Public Service International Baba Aye is a trade union and social movement activist. He worked for two decades with the Medical & Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), for most of this period he was the union’s education officer. Baba left MHWUN as Deputy Secretary General in 2016, to join Public Services International, a global trade union federation, as health and social services policy officer. At different times since the 1980s, Baba served as: spokesperson of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian-Cuba Friendship and Cultural Association and editor of Cuba Si, editor of the Working People’s Vanguard (defunct newspaper of the defunct All-Nigeria Socialist Alliance), National Chairperson of the Socialist Workers & Youth League (SWL), National Convener of United Action for Democracy (UAD), Deputy National Secretary of the labour party and Co-convener of the Coalition for Revolution (CORE).He is currently a co-president of the Geneva Global Health Hub (G2H2), a member of the Steering Group of the Health Workers for All Coalition (HW4AC), a member of the Core Team of the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors (GCSPF), and a member of the WHO COVID-19 Infection Prevention & Control Guidance Development Group. He has an International Masters in Labour Policies and Globalisation from the University of Kassel & Berlin School of Economics, and has written extensively on the labour movement, migration, development economics, the informal economy, globalisation and history of left movements. Baba is a contributing editor of the Review of African Political Economy (ROAPE) and author of Era of Crises & Revolts (2012) and the forthcoming Drafts of Becoming, a collection of poems (December 2021).

Last updated: May 2022