Professional News

Barnes Helps Advance Health Care in South Africa


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 14, 2014) — Beth Barnes, professor and director of the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications, within the College of Communication and Information, recently lent her expertise to rural health advocates in the Rainbow Nation, leading a workshop at the Rural Doctors Association of South Africa 2014 conference, "Building resilience in facing rural health realities."

Barnes spoke about branding on behalf of the American International Health Alliance in the session, “Effective communication and media engagement as a rural health advocate,” sponsored by the Rural Health Advocacy Project. The American International Health Alliance, a nonprofit organization, funds the UK School of Journalism and Telecommunications’ work in Zambia. The school partners with the Zambia Institute of Mass Communication (ZAMCOM) to improve and enhance the training of journalists in southern Africa covering HIV/AIDS stories through a program funded by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Barnes’ session intended to help rural health care workers and associations better understand the importance of branding, and how having a clearly communicated identity can be helpful in working with other aspects of the health care sector, including patients.

In addition to educating South Africa’s rural doctors, Barnes also met with those working in a relatively new health care profession, the Professional Association of Clinical Associates of South Africa (PACASA). Clinical associates are similar to physicians assistants in the U.S., but were only recently implemented in South Africa’s health system in 2008, according to the PACASA website.

Barnes said that because the profession and the PACASA representation are fairly young, it’s important that other members of the health care team, such as doctors, nurses and pharmacists, understand the role of the clinical associate.

“Patients also need to have a sense of the kind of preparation a clinical associate has had and how the clinical associate can help in patient care,” said Barnes.

To achieve this level of understanding among health care workers and patients, Barnes will help PACASA develop branding and a strategic communication plan, contributing to the success of the profession as a whole.

"It's really a privilege for me to be able to work with the leadership group for the Professional Association of Clinical Associates of South Africa as they work to help educate people on what their profession is about,” said Barnes. “Clinical associates can help to fill a gap in delivery of health care in rural areas in South Africa; a solid communication plan can help them to develop the credibility they need to be fully accepted by their patients and others involved in delivering health care."

MEDIA CONTACT: Ann Blackford at 859-323-6442 or