Friday Activist: Leanne Brady


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Dr. Leanne Brady is a Rescue Researcher with the Department of Health of the Western Cape

Yes, we can how a doctor can mobilize people in times of need. Leanne Brady describes herself as an “public health advocate” however Leanne Brady has more to offer.

Leanne Brady has a wide range of various hats. As a doctor in the public sector as well as a health policy researcher documentarian, and doctor, she’s often credited as the main driver in Cape Town Together – from which Gauteng Together and Eastern Cape Together were born – basically groupings made up of Community Action Networks (CANs) which supported a large portion of South Africa during the darkest moments of lockdown.

Talk to an someone who is far of the Salt River home via Zoom, Brady quickly distracts this gratitude.

“So I created a team,” she says. “The method we discuss it, we attempt to avoid words like ‘pioneers or founders’ as it was a team effort. The initial teams were small that were formed in the entire neighborhood and then grew into these larger networks.

“Due to my job in the health department as well as my prior experiences with the pandemics as well as my experience with activism at Cape Town, I was truly blessed to meet numerous wonderful people. It’s essential to say it in this manner, you know?

The Cape Town Together Facebook page with 19,100 users describes the project as “something gorgeous, exciting and ever-growing”.

It continues, “We are a network of self-organizing neighborhoods-based groups that are taking action and responding in distinctive and different ways to the Covid-19 , and more. Examples include communal kitchens, theatres, care packages for homeless people Mask production blankets, winter clothing and blanket campaigns, and more. “

It also gives reassurance should it seem chaos: “The nature of the horizontal, decentralized organization of this system is a mystery to the majority of people, and could be confusing to those that are well-versed in normal corporate and administrative structures Don’t fret when things seem a bit odd and chaotic initially. “

Brady’s lectures in Connaught Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where she was a one of the nation’s Ebola Response that influenced her community-based approach to Covid-19 within South Africa. Brady was a public physician working in Sierra Leone for six months and during that time there were 27.609 probable Ebola cases and 11261 deaths.

“My activities with Sierra Leone has been largely healthcare and clinic-based and the involvement with the communities we’ve done was mostly ineffective,” she says. “So during my Covid response, I explored various methods to gain knowledge from my mistakes I made, but did not involve communities in a more broad way. In my opinion, the majority of health systems are trying to figure out how they can encourage community-led responses. “

Despite the devastation caused by Ebola and the resulting devastation “galvanizing force” of the outbreak is still burned into Brady’s brain.

She remembers her experience working at Connaught Hospital: “To be honest, I did not feel it was traumatic. It was actually a amazing experience as I was with an incredible team as well as in The Ministry of Health. I gained so much information and could have was able to stay.

“There is something special about these moments of extreme crises that really bring people together, much as Covid has done in recent times. It is an extremely positive experience. In times of crisis, there is this sense of collective intent and a pulsing force. “

The the hat Brady wears the most comfortably is the one worn by the “Public Health”Activist.”

She is currently a researcher for the emergency services of the Western Cape Ministry of Health and is currently completing the research for her PhD from the University of Cape Town on the topic of “Collective Action Catalyzed by the Health System”. The subject of one of her PhD study subjects is the safety of ambulance personnel in the red zones. These are zones that are classified as extremely violent, and rescue workers waiting for police escorts get into.

As a federal employee, Brady wants to transform the healthcare system by transforming it from within. “It’s quite easy to feel as if the department is a monolith that is going to leave our patients, however the reality is, there’s many good people,” she says.

In the midst of her medical qualification (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the University of Pretoria and a Masters in Public Health degree from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) as well as her experience in the field of treating Ebola patients to training for the cataract procedure in Swaziland The arsenal of Brady’s includes the arts of poetry, documentary, and photography by which she considers the human aspect of health healthcare.

Dr. Leanne Brady wants to transform her health care system by working from the inside. (Photo: Liza van Deventer / Fairlady)

She elaborates, “I realized that what we learned in medical school wasn’t enough to address certain of the complex social issues that impact health systems.

“Much of the information we are taught during medical school are clearly focused on the clinical aspect however, in reality, much of what causes people to be healthy or sick is related to the political and social determinants of health. One of the primary reasons to bring in the creative field is to gain an understanding of these issues, and to collaborate with them to start discussions, I believe. “

For instance, her documentary The Medic from The Red Zone Zone follows an ambulance crew that work during the night shift in Mitchell’s Plain on New Year’s Eve. The film was released in 2018, and helps promote the safety of paramedics. View the film Here.

“So this paramedic is saying goodbye his wife as if he’s going back,” says Brady. “This is an issue since access to emergency medical care is a fundamental right under the Constitution. However, providing these areas is difficult. Therefore, a significant one of our goals is to understand the difficulty of these regions. The stories, they humanize the emergency services and reveals the depth of violence. “

About three years ago, about 200 persons attended the protest of Medics from the Red Zone Zone in Tafelsig located situated in Mitchell’s Plain.

“There was poetry, Breyani and karaoke,” says Brady. “The Director of ambulance services, the station’s advisor, and several paramedics who live and work in the area were present.

“And it allowed for conversations between mothers who had waited long enough for ambulances to collect their children, as well as paramedics, and so on. One of those conversations, a woman whose name was Joanie Fredericks brought out a large, blank piece of paper and stated, “We must commit as an entire community to protect our paramedics as they are unable to come to our aid in the event that we don’t take care of them.” Then, a large number of people gathered and signed the pledge. “

Brady is delighted that CANs could prove useful in the post-Covid future.

“There are now Cans being used in Limpopo and in other areas. Everything could be a CAN you think? That means that any group of people living in an area that has been grouped around a subject could consider themselves an can. It’s true, in Cape Town we heard of several CANs helping to fight fires. Both in the University of Cape Town and earlier in Gugulethu and Hout Bay.

“The relationships that the CANs established allowed them to respond better. Relationships such as these in times of need are crucial. “

An adorable puppy lies on Brady’s lap demanding attention. She is thankful to her neighborhood, her neighbors from Salt River, for looking after the dog in the lockdown and helping vulnerable people living in the Western Cape.

“We have a garden for the community right next to my home and it’s very beautiful,” she says. “There was lots of support during the outbreak. My neighbors fed me almost every evening. After I had come home after a long day at work, and Faeeza walked on my door and told me, ‘Hey I’ve made something for you to eat for dinner. It might be too late for you now but you can save it for the next day. ‘”

In the Covid-19 era, Brady confesses to preferring a crisis-driven collective approach in comparison to “the slow and steady violence of a healthcare system that is feeling stuck” It’s “like doing nothing to improve it. It doesn’t seem that things are getting better and everyone is exhausted and exhausted. It’s a more challenging working environment. “

Their attitude is marked by enthusiasm and determination. “There are lots of positive people working to bring this system running and running, don’t you think?” DM /MC


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