Biography Vanessa is an Antibiotic Resistance and One Health activist as well as an e-Patient Scholar. She is further the founder of hcsmSA which is an acronym for Health Communication and Social Media South Africa. hcsmSA started as a Twitter chat which she moderated on the hashtag #hcsmSA with a group of diverse stakeholders to discuss Sustainable Health Development particularly in the area of digital transformation.
Vanessa was the creative director of Artext, an advertising company which she established in 1997. Due to a severe car accident during 2004 in Johannesburg, she spent ten years through the medical system reconstructing damage caused to her face with a multi-disciplinary team which resulted in MRSA. In 2013, she combined her patient experience and marketing skills to diversify her services by offering medical website design to HCP’s which included patient education resources like 3D animated videos because one of the greatest challenges she had was the lack of access to online specialists and accurate, decipherable information. In 2015 she closed her marketing business to pursue an e-Patient Scholarship and #hcsmSA full-time.
Since 2013 Vanessa has been appointed as an advising e-Patient to The South African Antibiotic Stewardship Program (SAASP) and ASPIRES (Antibiotic use across Surgical Pathways – Investigating, Redesigning and Evaluating Systems), EyeforPharma, InfectionControl.Tips and Doctors 2.0 and You, Paris. She has been nominated for various business achiever awards including the NSBC (National Small Business Chamber of Commerce – Entrepreneur’s Section) and won the WOS – Woman of the Year Director’s Award in 2015 in recognition of her activism and community upliftment. In 2018, she received the Tropics Magazine Top 200 African Changemakers Award and she was invited as a civil guest to present her e-Patient story for a meeting at the Africa CDC / African Union in Ethiopia which focused on the implementation of the Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy for Africa. Vanessa has also appeared as an e-Patient guest for the NHS Digital Academy through the Edinburgh University MSc Global e-Health Programme as well as presented at the Africa Health Digital Summit and the International Conference on Prevention and Infection Control (ICPIC).
She was an accredited Social Media Ambassador for the Health Information Management Systems Society in 2017 #HIMSS17, is currently an e-Patient Scholar at Stanford University Medicine X, a co-chair of The Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA) Health IT SIG and a member of the Interaction Design Foundation (IDF) which focuses on the principles of human-centered design. Vanessa is also a patient reviewer for the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Patient and Public Partnership Program.
One of Vanessa’s major achievements has been her contribution towards the implementation of the Antibiotic Guardian Pledge Campaign in South Africa working alongside Professor Adrian Brink, one of the co-chairs of the South African Antibiotic Stewardship Program (SAASP), as well as Head of the Division at the Medical Microbiology Department at the University of Cape Town. The Pledge was later adopted by the National Department of Health. Vanessa won the Antibiotic Guardian Community Communications Award in 2020 for her commitment to promoting patient and public engagement.
She also established a successful Social Media Influencer Program at the Public Health Association of South Africa in 2018, which demonstrated a 65% overall increase in online participation compared to the previous year (#PHASA2018 metrics report). In 2019, she implemented the first CPD Accredited Course about e-Patients in South Africa. Vanessa also served on the Presidential Health Compact as well as is a Civil Society Champion for the Africa CDC and a Voices for Diagnosis (FINDdx) Winner which was awarded at the WHO’s 72nd World Health Assembly in May 2019 to recognise her work. Vanessa was also accepted into the First World Health Organisation Infodemic Manager Global Training Cohort which she completed in 2020. Vanessa also works as a part-time Communication manager for the Commonwealth Pharmacists Association and advising committee member for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP).
Download the official e-Patient white paper by Dr Tom Ferguson on the Society for Participatory Medicine’s website.
Contact Vanessa for speaking engagements as well as to inquire about training workshops at email@example.com