“Ubuntu ngumtu ngabanye abantu” (“A person is a person through other people”)- African proverb.
The philosophy of Ubuntu derives from a Nguni word, Ubuntu meaning “the quality of being human.” Ubuntu means love, truth, peace, happiness, eternal optimism, inner goodness, etc. Ubuntu is the essence of a human being. It is based on the eternal philosophy of “oneness” – an understanding of the interconnectedness of humans as a way of life. It emphasises that we are essentially social beings and our wellbeing stems from living in trusting communities that thrives in the spirit of willing participation, unquestioning cooperation, warmth, openness, and personal dignity.
Success of any strategy in healthcare is dependent on creating communities that interact, help and assist each other at all times. The archaic pharmacologic and procedure based healthcare management is now giving way to comprehensive care, which relies heavily on prevention, awareness, education and rehabilitation. It has traditionally been extremely difficult to build a robust and sustainable business model for comprehensive care. Coupled with this are age old myths and ignorance which have hindered inclusiveness in healthcare. There has also been a shift in family dynamics and population migration, needing adjustments. War, strife, poverty, displacement, and a lack of trust has stretched resources to its limits. There is thus an urgent need to build communities that give hope.
The last decade has seen the meteoric rise of the internet and mobile phones, making connectivity amongst humans much easier. People are much more empowered and aware of the world around and the world has become a much smaller place to live in. Our communities are not necessarily just the people around us, but we can relate to a much wider audience.
The internet and digital technology is today not just helping people manage diseases, but also is useful in building robust frameworks for prevention, awareness, education and rehabilitation in illness. Digital technology is being used in education, agriculture, business and newer methods are being explored to alleviate poverty and thus improve the lives of people.
Some of the stumbling blocks of healthcare have been accessibility, education, two-way communication and social determinants in the form of poverty, inadequate housing and unemployment. Building thriving, connected communities, mutual cooperation and pooling of resources will invest in people and bring about long lasting change.