SAMJ: South African Medical Journal
On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574
PICK, W; CLAASSEN, J W B; GRANGE, C A le and HUSSEY, G D. Health activism in Cape Town: a case study of the Health Workers Society. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2012, vol.102, n.6, pp.403-405. ISSN 2078-5135.
The Health Workers Society (HWS), founded in 1980, was one of several progressive health organisations that fought for a democratic health system in South Africa. We document the sociopolitical context within which it operated and some of its achievements. HWS, many of whose members were staff and students of the University of Cape Town, provided a forum for debate on health-related issues, politics and society, and worked closely with other organisations to oppose the apartheid state's health policies and practices. They assisted with the formation of the first dedicated trade union for all healthcare workers and were one of the first to pioneer the primary healthcare approach in an informal settlement in Cape Town.