Healthcare Social Media South Africa (#hcsmSA) and the Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA) have collectively launched a Social Media Influencer Programme to recognise five local digital leaders in healthcare.

The selected influencers will be awarded entrance to the 14th annual PHASA event taking place from 10 – 12 September 2018, where they will receive mentorship and training to learn about the effective and ethical use of healthcare social media (hcsm) as well as receive recognition for their ambassadorial title.

This year’s PHASA conference will take place under the theme “Health for All” which commemorates the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 70th-anniversary celebration focusing on Universal Healthcare (UHC) and the promotion of health as a fundamental human right.

“Whilst attending the event, the social media leaders will contribute to a global dialogue about the conference, key trends and topics, including healthcare innovation and addressing disparities in healthcare delivery using the official registered hashtag – #PHASA2018,” said Founder of #hcsmSA and Stanford University Medicine X Scholar, Vanessa Carter.

“One of the purposes of promoting live-tweeting at medical events is so that anyone who couldn’t attend has access to key information, for example new research that is presented becomes accessible much faster and to a wider, global audience in real-time and afterwards if it is tweeted. The tweets will be recorded by Symplur using the official hashtag and made available to the public online,” continued Carter.

“PHASA promotes a “Health for All” policies approach as a strategy for addressing the complex factors that influence health and equity. We believe that the web can be one of the tools we should use to promote the “Health for All” agenda in South Africa. Therefore, the influencers will be able to assist PHASA by posting links to conference pages and content (#PHASA2018); this will allow for PHASA to connect with new prospects and acquire more leads; spark questions, comments and conversations to allow existing and new prospects to engage on various conference content and events and help to grow this important public association,” said PHASA Vice President, Moeketsi Modisenyane.

“The programme offers an opportunity for our participants to learn how to become better digital citizens. Social media is currently playing an important role in society, politics and information dissemination. We require more health professionals who are skilled in using social media for health education, health advocacy and social mobilisation,” said PHASA Health Information and Technology SIG Chair, Andre van Zyl.

“The fluidity of our society requires that we keep pace with the constant flux it is in. This includes being abreast of the developments in healthcare. Social media is a conduit for enabling this level of empowerment. It allows us to penetrate sometimes difficult to reach communities in a non threatening way. But as much as the medium allows for reaching and empowering communities it can be destructive and for this reason social media literacy and stewardship is becoming increasingly important. This programme will facilitate creating a more informed digital citizenry,” said President of PHASA, André Rose.

The programme is open to all South African residents including students, patients, doctors, nurses, NPOs, IT developers and entrepreneurs, etc., who demonstrate a compelling passion for advancing healthcare using the web and social media.

Interested participants can apply before the 10th of August 2018. For more information about the programme visit: http://www.hcsmsa.co.za/phasa-hcsmsa-2018/.

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