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Inclusion, access and social justice: the rhizomic evolution of a field across a continent
  1. Carla Tsampiras1,
  2. Nolwazi Mkhwanazi2,
  3. Victoria Hume2,3
  1. 1 Primary Health Care Directorate, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
  2. 2 WiSER, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
  3. 3 The Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Carla Tsampiras, Primary Health Care Directorate, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town 7700, South Africa; carla.tsampiras{at}

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Wamkelekile, karibu, welkom, and welcome to this special issue of the journal titled ‘Medical and Health Humanities in Africa – Inclusion, Access and Social Justice’. Medical and Health Humanities (MHH) is a nascent field on the African continent; while the research, teaching, and practices of many people can be categorised as being MHH, it is only in the last six years that practitioners have initiated formal networks, convened conferences, and applied for funding to explore the particular form and experiences of MHH in parts of Africa. As researchers, lecturers and practitioners of MHH based in South Africa, we have an interest in finding out if, and how, MHH is unfolding in other countries on the continent. The special issue is thus born from two desires. The first is to seek and strengthen networks continentally and internationally, and the second is to explore understandings, practices, and perceptions of MHH in other African countries.

Since 2013, universities in South Africa have held conferences and workshops dedicated to exploring how interdisciplinary work across humanities, social sciences, arts and health sciences can change understandings of health, healing and well-being. At present, however, only the University of the Witwatersrand has a formal research programme in Medical Humanities located at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER), while the University of Cape Town has an online MHH programme, MHH projects and MHH-linked undergraduate curricula. Other universities in the country, such as the University of Stellenbosch, have MHH-inspired projects. Beyond the tip of the continent, the University of Ibadan in Nigeria has, since 2016, been formalising the establishment of an Institute of Bioethics and Medical Humanities, while the Suez Canal University in Egypt unveiled plans to incorporate humanities in medical education in the same year.1

In South Africa, the first two MHH conferences were …

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