UCT alum helps UK navigate its way to good health

30 December 2021 Read time 4 min.
Jeanelle de Gruchy returned to South Africa for a couple of years in the late 1990s as a Research Fellow with the Health and Human Rights Project – a joint project of UCT and the Trauma Centre for Survivors of Violence and Torture. De Gruchy was pictured with her co-editors, (centre) Prof Laurel Baldwin-Ragaven (now at Wits) and UCT’s Prof Leslie London (far right) at their book launch: An Ambulance of the Wrong Colour: Health Professionals, Human Rights and Ethics in South Africa. Judge Richard Goldstone (far left) and Dr Mamphela Ramphele (second from right) were there to congratulate them.
Jeanelle de Gruchy returned to South Africa for a couple of years in the late 1990s as a Research Fellow with the Health and Human Rights Project – a joint project of UCT and the Trauma Centre for Survivors of Violence and Torture. De Gruchy was pictured with her co-editors, (centre) Prof Laurel Baldwin-Ragaven (now at Wits) and UCT’s Prof Leslie London (far right) at their book launch: An Ambulance of the Wrong Colour: Health Professionals, Human Rights and Ethics in South Africa. Judge Richard Goldstone (far left) and Dr Mamphela Ramphele (second from right) were there to congratulate them.

Alumna Jeanelle de Gruchy was recently appointed Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO) for England – one of the nation’s top public health positions. 

Jeanelle de Gruchy

As an undergraduate BA student on her way to write an English exam in what is now the Sarah Baartman Hall, Jeanelle De Gruchy paused on the hall’s granite steps and looked back at the Cape Flats. A huge black cloud was growing above Crossroads where police and security forces were clashing with residents during the apartheid government’s brutal State of Emergency in the mid-1980s.

The incongruity of writing an exam on one of Shakespeare’s works, while another community was fighting for their rights, proved a seminal moment for De Gruchy. She came to the realisation that she needed to focus on learning skills of a more practical nature, skills that would enable her to play more active role in the community. So, after completing her BA, she enrolled in medicine.
 

“How we reduce health inequalities and create a healthier nation, is really the longer-term role of the new office. It’s a new opportunity for providing leadership and creating a new entity to really bring about some lasting changes,” said De Gruchy.

Read more about how Jeanelle de Gruchy is helping the UK navigate its way to good health. 

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