Dr Saadiq Kariem honoured with Jakes Gerwel Award
The University of the Western Cape (UWC) honoured Dr Saadiq Kariem with the prestigious Jakes Gerwel Award for his positive contribution to the health sector in South Africa on Friday, 11 July 2014.
The Jakes Gerwel Award honours and recognises Jakes Gerwel’s central role in promoting public health practice, and is open to all graduates of the UWC School of Public Health who have demonstrated outstanding work on some aspect of public health.
Dr Saadiq Kariem was one of the first graduates of the Public Health Programme at UWC, obtaining a MPhil (later re-named MPH) in 1997. Dr Saadiq graduated in medicine from UCT in 1992, obtained the Fellowship of the College of Public Health Medicine South Africa (FCPHM) in 2002 and Executive Master in Business Administration (EMBA) from UCT in 2009. He served as the ANC National Health Secretary (1996 to 2006), served on the Council for Medical Schemes (2001 to 2008), and was COO and CEO of Groote Schuur Hospital (2005 to 2010). Since 2010 he was appointed Chief Director: General Specialist and Emergency Services in the Western Cape Department of Health.
Keynote speakers at the award ceremony included: Prof Helen Schneider, Director of the School of Public Health, UWC; Prof Brian O’Connell, Rector of UWC; Ms Dianna Yach, Chairperson and Director at the Mauerberger Foundation Fund; Prof David Sanders, Emeritus Professor at the UWC School of Public Health; Mr Henrich Gerwel, son of the late Prof Jakes Gerwel; and Dr Saadiq Kariem, recipient of the second Jakes Gerwel Award.
The award of R50,000 was made possible through a grant by the Mauerberger Foundation Fund.
Chairperson and Director of the Mauerberger Foundation Fund, Ms Dianna Yach, congratulated Dr Kariem and spoke about the positive working relationship between the Mauerberger Foundation Fund and UWC.
The participation of Heinrich Gerwel who represented the the Gerwel family was appreciated. He spoke about Prof Gerwel's work as Rector of UWC and his efforts to establish public health education at UWC. Mr Gerwel handed the award to Dr Kariem.
In his lecture Dr Kariem presented a very informative analysis of how health policy was developed during the early days in the transition to democracy in South Africa, and his own role in that process. He gave the audience valuable historical insight into the politics of the period, acknowledging the individuals who contributed to the formulation of very important and basic health policy documents. He also referred to his own work during the days of HIV/AIDS 'denialism' in South Africa.
Professor David Sanders, nominator of Dr Kariem, read the following Citation to Dr Kariem:
Dr Saadiq Kariem is one of the first graduates of the Public Health Programme at UWC, obtaining a MPhil (later re-named MPH) in 1997. Saadiq graduated in medicine from UCT in 1992, obtained the Fellowship of the College of Public Health Medicine South Africa (FCPHM) in 2002 and Executive Masters in Business Administration (EMBA) from UCT in 2009.
In the period before and during his Masters studies, Saadiq spent several years working at community health centres in Crossroads and Khayelitsha as a medical officer, and during the transition period served on the Strategic Management Team of the Minister of Health in the Western Cape (1996), assisting with developing priority programmes for the restructured Department of Health in the Western Cape.
Saadiq has been centrally involved in the restructuring of health services in the country at local, provincial and national levels and has played a leadership role in policy formulation in the health sector, both as the ANC National Health Secretary from 1996 to 2006 as well as serving for seven years on the Council for Medical Schemes from 2001 to 2008, in the latter years as Deputy Chairperson.
His first senior position in government was as deputy director of the HIV/AIDS programme in the Western Cape (1997–2000) where he was responsible for, amongst others, implementing the first mother-to-child-transmission (MTCT) programme in South Africa despite high-level political opposition. This initiative, which has deservedly received much praise, inspired other provinces to later initiate similar programmes. Saadiq remains actively involved in community organisations and serves as the Chairperson of the National AIDS Convention of South Africa (NACOSA), an organisation focussed on building capacity amongst civil society organisations in the field of HIV/AIDS. NACOSA is the principal recipient of the Global Fund Grant to South Africa responsible for disbursing several million rand to community organisations and non-governmental organisations in South Africa.
Since 2010 Saadiq has been Chief Director: General Specialist and Emergency Services in the Western Cape Department of Health, responsible for regional hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, oral health services, emergency medical services, forensic pathology services as well as the Western Cape rehabilitation centre. During this time he has inter alia been instrumental in drafting the Interim Bilateral Agreements between the Western Cape Department of Health and the University of the Western Cape as well as between the Department of Health and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. These agreements have now formalised the relationship between the Department of Health and these respective universities and have established governance and oversight mechanisms for ensuring the training and development of health professionals.
Dr Kariem has combined his clinical and public health training and skills with a dogged commitment to influencing politics and policy in health. His courage in initiating HIV/AIDS treatment at a time of ‘denialism’ played a critical role in influencing the evolution of this programme which is rightly hailed as one of South Africa’s great post-apartheid health successes. His role in this struggle is little known, having been attributed to others. For this alone, Dr Kariem is a worthy recipient of the Jakes Gerwel Award in Public Health.