Mark

DEMOCRATISING
HEALTHCARE


DESIGN PROPOSAL // 2019


This project investigates the emergence of the use of data in South Africa’s Healthcare system. The research undertaken aims to frame the legacy of apartheid town planning, its political and social implications on access to healthcare and subsequently proposes an intervention that allows for alternative medicinal practices to appropriate and intervene. It is important to note South Africa’s Healthcare Legacy and why it has fallen into despair. South Africa’s poor and undemocratic healthcare is heavily attributed to its dim history of apartheid.

Historically, city planning had followed a model of segregating people and allocating them to specific areas based on race - this is still present today despite 25 years on from its abolition. In the early 20th Century, major cities in the country began to grow in population - especially due to migration of villagers looking for work - this put a lot of strain on the limited hospitals in and around cities. This allocation of services has a direct relationship to the apartheid city model. Adequate healthcare services had been provided in white neighbourhoods, whilst little or no consideration was made for the rest of other neighbourhoods comprised of various racial groups. 

We can also see the contrasting differences in the system deployed compared to that of the United Kingdom - which has universal health coverage. The NHI is interesting from a data use perspective due to one of the main components of the bill - to digitise and create a Health Data Repository that aims to be active and utilised in many countries in the global south. Parallel to varying healthcare conditions, there is a well established traditional health care network. Uncertified and unregulated - traditional healers and their practice have been deemed illegal and unscientific under the apartheid regime due to the witchcraft suppression act that was introduced in 1957.

This systematic oppression stigmatised and marginalised these practitioners. Traditional Practitioners were excluded in the NHI Bill as their legitimacy and right to practice were questioned by the state. My proposal therefore aims to provide an architecture that allows for these practitioners to appropriate, and in doing so aid in legitimising their practice through sanitary conditions, and as well as a repository that builds knowledge regarding the various fauna and flora utilised. 

Looking specifically at an area named Langa, in Cape Town. A neighbourhood with approximately 35,000 inhabitants have only 1 public clinic and 3 private home clinics. Due to this lack, this location therefore has more traditional practitioners active, registered or not. This site is of particular interest, as the demographic and socioeconomic conditions here are exasperated by the lack of essential amenities.

Under the cape town zoning scheme, there are areas specified as open-spaces - primarily used as public open space, consensual use allows for urban agriculture and informal trading. After looking carefully at the population density on this site, it is possible to identify sites on which the intervention can be effectively deployed. The conditions of the spaces within which traditional practitioners operating currently are ad hoc and situated in residential and squatted sites.

medicinal plants grow throughout the country and require specific climatic conditions to flourish outside their habitat, and some of these plants grow across different biomes - I have identified 3 distinct conditions that the project will consider. Tools like google lens use image recognition to identify objects and prompting links associated to the image. Image recognition optimises the identification of plants with a data base of known medicinal plants - educating both healers and patients alike. In order for the intervention to be effective, the architecture needs to respond to the planning requirements, a scalable infrastructure to collect data, cultivate plants and educate.

Through the use of augmented reality, practitioners are able to manage their production and build knowledge regarding their inventory - which in turn is shared amongst them. From a user perspective, augmented reality aids the understanding of the uses of each and every plant. The periphery of the building functions as a market place - where practitioners interface with the local community. Situated on sites deemed as open space - the varying stages of the project allow for multiple forms of interaction and occupation. 
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